Background: American authorities have invested extraordinary resources to keep up with the growth in cannabis cultivation, and state-level cannabis laws have been changing rapidly. Despite these changes, little research on the relationship between criminal justice sanctions and grower behaviours exist, in particular research that examines restrictive deterrence - the altering of an illegal behaviour as opposed to desisting from it completely. Methods: We examine restrictive deterrence in the context of cannabis cultivation by modelling the relationship between the threat of sanctions and the size of cultivation site and number of co-offenders. We use data from an anonymous web survey where participants were recruited through advertisements on websites related to cannabis use and cultivation. Negative binomial regression were used on 337 cases that contain valid data on size of cultivation site and 338 cases that contain valid data on the number of co-offenders. Results: Our study found some evidence that the severity of state sanctions reduces the size of cultivation sites among growers who reside in the state. However, the number of contacts with the police had the opposite effect. In addition, we did not find a restrictive deterrent effect for the number of co-offenders, suggesting that different factors affect different decision points. Interestingly, objective skill and subjective skill had positive and independent effects on size of site. Conclusions: Results suggest that state-level sanctions have a structuring effect by restricting the size of cultivation sites but further increases in sanctions or enforcement are unlikely to deter more individuals from growing cannabis. In fact, there may be some potential dangers of increased enforcement on cannabis growers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Health Policy