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Study: Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 7, 2012

    The establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries does not adversely impact local crime rates, according to a federally funded study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

    Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined whether the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with elevated crimes rates. Researchers assessed the spatial relationship between density of medical marijuana dispensaries and two types of crime rates (violent crime and property crime) in 95 census tracts in Sacramento, California, during the year 2009.

    Researchers reported: “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study. These results suggest that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras), may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders.”

    Authors acknowledged that their findings “run contrary to public perceptions” and that they conflict with public statements made by the California Police Chief’s Association, which had previously claimed, “Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are … common ancillary by-products of (medicinal cannabis) operations.”

    The UCLA is not the first study to dispute the allegation that brick-and-mortar dispensaries are adversely associated with crime. A 2011 study of crime rates in Los Angeles published by the RAND Corporation similarly concluded, “[W]e found no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise.” However, shortly following its publication RAND removed the study from its website after their findings were publicly criticized by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

    Other analyses of crime statistics in the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, and Colorado Springs have separately disputed the notion that the locations of dispensaries are associated with elevated incidences of criminal activity.

    Full text of the study, “Exploring the Ecological Association Between Crime and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries,” appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

    43 Responses to “Study: Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime”

    1. Chris in WI says:

      Duh!

    2. Reese says:

      – “Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are … common ancillary by-products of (medicinal cannabis) operations.”

      Sure all of that has happened, the question is how MUCH. Very little. And if you look at violence near bars, it’s the opposite. Violence is VERY PREVALENT near alcohol retail establishments. This isn’t an exaggeration like with accusations around pot stores.

    3. seth forbis says:

      lol it means nothing if they were forced to remove it from there site by city attorneys! no news stations will pick it up and people wont be able to reference it without their facts being questioned dubiously…this study is worthless because only WE know about it, and we don’t need to prove it to ourselves, non smoking voters (a vast majority of the nation!) will never hear about it because RAND decided to hide FACTS because of outside pressure from one small local government.

    4. Chad says:

      Of course it is not associated with much crime at all. Like Reese has said above me, in alcohol or cigarette etc establishments Marijuana is more clean than the rest.

      I certainly believe this has to do with alcohol and cigarette’s being bad for ones health and the deterioration of mental health; Which is causing all of these problems.

      As for Medical Marijuana it has not been linked to crime nor has it raised crime levels, in fact a lot of studies note either crime goes down a little bit or a lot, which means all the gateway crime theories are just that, theories no hard or decisive evidence of proof, atleast not within the last ten years or so.

    5. Francesco Isolani MD says:

      http://resources.prev.org/documents/AlcoholViolenceGruenewald.pdf

      Contrast these findings to increased violent crime around liquor stores and alcohol serving establishments as noted in the study above.

      Francesco Isolani MD

    6. Gweedo says:

      Well this is downright shocking!

      You mean to say that an establishment which offers sick people a harmless medicine doesn’t increase crime rates?? Amazing

    7. Fireweed says:

      yeah that and the recent research showing a decrease in traffic fatalities in states where medical mj is allowed.Check it out for yourself. the statistics are easy to find and there’s a direct inverse correlation. legalize pot and we could have the best traffic safety in the world!

    8. Luke says:

      The entire statement can be torn apart very easily here. Observe:

      “Drug dealing (would happen there anyway, at an increased rate),
      sales to minors (like how someone buys beer for their little brother),
      loitering (outside all retail stores),
      heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas (brings more $$ to those retail stores),
      increased noise (you’re kidding, right?),
      and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries (every business has this)
      are … common ancillary by-products of (medicinal cannabis) operations (you mean they are by-products to EVERY type of business)”

      how stupid does he think people really are? Sheesh.

    9. Paul Pot says:

      If people can purchase quality consumables in a cosy shop from friendly staff at a good price well it sure beats buying low grade stuff off a shifty guy in a dark ally who probably has a gun.
      Legalize! Normalize!

    10. Paul W says:

      It is no surprise to me that Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime!

      Those that are concerned with crime should realize that crime is associated with prohibition… Only fools believe it is the other way around!

      A specific example of one of those fools is Republican David Albo of Virginia!

    11. toker says:

      were 15 trillion in debt and the feds are wasting money to tell us weed stores don’t create crime. idiots

    12. Galileo Galilei says:

      When we allow ourselves to be bullied into submission the way the RAND corporation did, we wind up wasting money on some imagined threat. This is nothing short of government waste and fraud.

      We need to spend our money more wisely.

    13. Dave Evans says:

      Theories have some evidence from which those theories were created. Marijuana prohibition doesn’t even have any evidence with which it can be supported. It isn’t even “a theory”!

      It is nothing more than straight up hearsay and bias intimidation. We can a national campaign to stop bullying. What is marijuana prohibition? Bullying again, but with lots of excuses. It is pathetic. The public already knows it. It just seems the folks that don’t know are those “out of touch” twits, like Obama and Bush, we have running our country.

      The fact Obama can pull such a personal 180, just goes to show he is a soulless manipulator. He knows the truth, but feels it just too complicated for his audience.

    14. Ray DiPasquale says:

      Crime, once exposed, has no refuge but in audacity.”
      ? Tacitus, Annals

    15. [...] Study: Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime The establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries does not adversely impact local crime rates, according to a federally funded study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined whether the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with elevated crimes rates. Researchers assessed the spatial relationship between density of medical marijuana dispensaries and two types of crime rates (violent crime and property crime) in 95 census tracts in Sacramento, California, during the year 2009. Researchers reported: “There were no [...] [...]

    16. I an attempt to get rid of them they will lie & say everything to make you believe that there is huge amounts of crime associated with the dispensaries but they never tell you where the real crime come from . http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c69_1339157747
      In fact, when law enforcement looks for criminals & gang members they first look at liquor stores . I never once heard them say they look for criminals at medical marijuana dispensaries .

    17. Galileo Galilei says:

      @Reese

      Yes, there is definitely an association between alcohol and crime.

      When I dropped back in after my commune days, I played music in redneck bars. I saw fights every other weekend. In 3+ years in the commune, I never even heard a raised voice, let alone violence.

      You can corroborate this by watching ‘Cops’ on TV a few times. The drug associated with violence is ALWAYS alcohol. Don’t take my word. Check it out.

    18. They seem to be imagining crime will come to the medical marijuana dispensaries if these sanctions were not imposed . Nothing is further from the TRUTH . Read here the what has been imposed by, Arizona’s politicians .

      In Arizona, it is a costly and cumbersome enterprise.

      Dispensaries have to abide by zoning regulations that change from one municipality to the next. Applicants must offer detailed plans on how to secure, store and track the marijuana they hope to sell. They have to offer educational materials, which is standard practice, and hire a medical director to supervise the operation, the only requirement of its kind in the country .

    19. Zexks says:

      This is all well and good, but doesn’t help much when those in power simply close their eyes and hide under their desks. Every study helps though.

    20. KayaLove says:

      I may be wrong, but the only real increase in crime brought about by setting up MMJ Dispensaries that I know about are the Raids perpetrated by the Feds on the Dispensaries and Educational Establishments.

    21. common sense is to legalize it too bad common sense does not apply in civilization!

    22. zoned out says:

      What flips my noodle, is use of zoning law to nuke dispensaries but… at the same time allowing alcohol and pharmacy in the same zone.

      That’s targeted fascism. When I look into it I quickly see my local city council is more interested in iclei than people.

    23. Paul W says:

      @KayaLove – I couldn’t agree with you more that the real crime are the raids perpetrated by the Feds on the Dispensaries and Educational Establishments. The people responsible are so out of touch with the hearts and will of the American people that they may as well be aliens from an unfriendly planet!

    24. Smokey Joe says:

      I guess the dumb cop forgot, “pays my salary”.

    25. Travesty says:

      God bless you all. Keep up the fight. Become those local town officals. Breathe life into the GOP. Control freak, War mongering idiots r gonna b dust soon.

    26. WAIT ! HOLD ON ! There is real crime done at the medical marijuna dispensaries . There is also gun violence but no worries…it’s all done by law enforcement .

    27. They never seem to tell you the truth of where the real crime comes from…..but they do everything to try and convince you it’s from medical marijuana dispensaries .

      Scotia pharmacy robbed today by man with shotgun

      Sheriff’s deputies are investigating an armed robbery at the Palco Pharmacy in Scotia this afternoon.
      The robbery occurred at 1:18 p.m. when an unidentified man armed with a shotgun entered the pharmacy and said “give me all your Oxycodone.” He had a black and yellow backpack, according to Lt. Steve Knight with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

    28. John k. says:

      @zoned

      Think this will flip your noodle even more?

      In Colorado, of course, this ban is there, dispensaries must be so far away from the schools, while I seen on TV, one of the weed shows, showed liquor store not to far from the schools and this one particular school has a gun shop right across the street.

      This makes no sense, you must have MMJ card and 18+ unless with a parent with a doc recommendation to enter a dispensary, while, people are allowed to take there children into liquor stores to buy alcohol but of course no minor under 21 can purchase, and for gun shops, must have a gun license and I believe to be 18 to 21 years of age.

      So, let me ask these douchebag lawmakers. What makes liquor stores and gun shops any different than a dispensary?

      Why are these liquor stores and gun shops able have open shop near schools and even then some across the street of schools, when this shit is more dangerous than our god given plant? Point being, You cannot buy MMJ without a MMJ card, you cannot buy a sidearm or even a muzzle loader without a gun/carry license, you cannot buy liquor without a legit I.D. stating you’re 21 or above. So what makes them any different than a dispensary, I ask again.

      This non-sense grinds my gears.

      Of course dispensaries should have nothing to do with neighborhood crime, I’d say because of gun shops and liquor stores & car stereo systems, Dub Rims yoo < LoL, gasoline "5 bucks a gal", vehicles, country is in depression is a main one, RAIDs, that there are neighborhood crimes.

      More money wasted down the toilet by these guys for [scratch]federally[/scratch] tax payers funded studies.

      Keep spending, there is only so much "you guys don't have enough gold in your vault to back it up, keep borrowing from China, you make a perfect future for America's children", it will eventually come to an end. Then America's children will be working for China in so many decades.

    29. John k. says:

      Hell, I just got an idea, to get around, “sorta” these zoning laws, build a 1050 ft building right next door to these schools and have these dispensaries at the top 49 ft of the building, or make it 1500 foot tall to have multiple dispensaries. Then rent out the rest of the building.

    30. Shawn says:

      Here in Billings’ North Park neighborhood, the closure of the Montana Cannabis dispensary has been nothing but bad. Consumers are now forced to purchase marijuana from unregulated criminals, creating more crime, more access to a wider range of hard drugs through a cladescent distribution industry. Tightening prohibition may have pushed marijuana out of sight, but the problems it created has not pushed the issue out of mind.

    31. Mike G says:

      @John K…I like your creativity but that idea is not practical. The tallest building in the US is 1451 ft. A 1500 foot building would be the 4th largest in the world. Even 1050 is a stretch considering there are only 6 buildings of that size in the US.

    32. James says:

      I tried to tell my mother-in-law, a former Bay Area City Council member, that the whole “crime running rampant” that her police chief swore was true, was actually madeup nonsense. . . and she wouldn’t believe me. I had to email her the US News article (figuring she wouldn’t believe if I sent the NORML link, either), just to rub it in a bit. . .

      I think we should exercise our Constitutional Rights, and declare war on the misguided, malicious fools who keep raiding MMJ growers and dispensaries. . .

    33. Greg says:

      Hi fellow yankee stoners,first of all love ur comments.Wish we had dispenseries down here in oz.Im so envious,wish i could pack up & move to cali or something.Recently had my meds & all my grow equipment taken from me by police.was about 7 days away from harvest: im burning bad cant believe they took my shit.So just remember u guys got it pretty good.PEACE

    34. Duc Dang says:

      The entire country has been brainwashed to think that cannabis is bad and ciggies and alcohol are good. Until we fix this notion we will be forever persecuted as drug users.

    35. Now, here’s the silliest thing they.. the prohibitionist ever did….they shut down 3 of the biggest marijunana dispensaries in, Eureka & more are scheduled but there has never been any crime there .
      Meanwhile….

      Eureka police were looking on Sunday for a suspect who robbed a liquor store at gunpoint shortly after midnight.
      According to a press release from the Eureka Police Department, officers responded to N and S Liquors on the 1500 block of Fifth Street at about 12:21 a.m. Sunday for a reported robbery that had just occurred.

      The release states the clerk told officers that a lone suspect had entered the store, pointed a firearm at him and demanded money. The suspect left with an undisclosed amount of money and was last seen running southbound on P Street.

    36. Tlc says:

      The Rand Corporation ought to come out and say that due to this studies results, they stand by their original findings.

    37. Galileo Galilei says:

      I saw Tommy Chong announce he had prostate cancer on CNN. I surprised NORML hasn’t mentioned it on your website.

      He intends to try to treat it with our favorite herb. Hopefully he can find a physician to treat him with it.

      Good Luck, Tommy!

    38. Buggsy13420666 says:

      Neighborhood dispensaries would take a bite out of crime and would help keep drug dealers off the streets selling marijuana. The 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS would still have their jobs with the real crime issues. DRUG DEALERS DON’T CARD YOU and DIRTY COPS CAN’T HAVE THEIR PALMS GREASED. TAKE A BITE OUT CRIME, MAKE MARIJUANA LEGAL. HAIL TO THE MONARCHY!

    39. zoned out says:

      I saw Tommy Chong announce he had prostate cancer on CNN. I surprised NORML hasn’t mentioned it on your website.

      I saw that too

    40. [...] US Deputy Director Paul Armentano wrote in June: “Authors acknowledged that their findings ‘run contrary to public perceptions’ [...]

    41. Dave says:

      It’s time to pickj up a gun and get rid of our gov’t. They no longer serve the people, only themselves. Take out a few of the top dogs and let them know we’re tired of being treated like criminals with no rights. We need a revolution to clean up our Gov’t, they are out of control and are getting more powerful everyday. The first two years in office, Obama ran wild with our money and when he was shutdown by the vote out of Dems by the people, he started crying he couldn’t get anything doen! DUH, you don’t have a blank check to our bank accoounts assholes!!!!!!!!!!!!

    42. […] Stories: Study: Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime NORML BlogJune 7, […]

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