Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Not Linked To Crime: RAND Study


The Law Blogger
A new RAND study finds no connection between L.A.’s dispensaries and crime.

​​The RAND Corporation on Tuesday issued a report dispelling the myth that there are inherent links between medical marijuana distribution centers and crime. The study upon which the RAND report is based claims that crime was as much as 60 percent greater around medical marijuana dispensaries that had been shut down by the City of Los Angeles compared to those areas with open dispensaries.

“[W]e found no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise,” said Mireille Jacobson, the study’s lead author and a senior economist at RAND.
RAND’s study, which challenges the common claim that medical marijuana dispensaries promote criminal activity, affirms the findings of patient advocates.

Steph Sherer, ASA: “We have reached the same conclusions as RAND”

​”We have reached the same conclusions as RAND using a qualitative study of public officials with firsthand experience of how dispensaries reduce crime in their neighborhoods,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana advocacy group. “Unfortunately, law enforcement has largely ignored or refuted these findings.”
According to RAND, the study “examined crime reports for the 10 days prior to and the 10 days following June 7, 2010, when the city of Los Angeles ordered more than 70 percent of the city’s 638 medical marijuana dispensaries to close.” Researchers analyzed crime reports within a few blocks around dispensaries that closed and compared that to crime reports for neighborhoods where dispensaries remained open.
In total, RAND said that “researchers examined 21 days of crime reports for 600 dispensaries in Los Angeles County — 170 dispensaries remained open while 430 were ordered to close.”
RAND calls the study “the first systematic analysis of the link between medical marijuana dispensaries and crime.” But Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck conducted his own study last year, comparing the levels of crime at the city’s banks with its medical marijuana dispensaries.
Chief Beck found that 71 robberies had occurred at the more than 350 banks in the city, compared to 47 robberies at the more than 500 medical marijuana facilities. At the time, Beck observed that “banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries,” and the claim that dispensaries attract crime “doesn’t really bear out.”
At least 60 localities in California, and many more in 15 other states, allow and regulate the distribution of medical marijuana, according to ASA.
“Dispensary regulations bring greater oversight and less crime to local communities,” Sherer said. “We’re hopeful that an objective study like RAND’s will help dispel the fear that our opposition is spreading across California and compel more local governments to adopt sensible regulations.”
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