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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!

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