RAND Removes Its Own Pro-Marijuana Dispensary Study


RAND Corporation
If your science upsets the powers that be — like, for instance, rabidly anti-marijuana Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich — then obviously there’s something wrong with science, not with the powers that be.

Report Comes Down After Heavy Pressure From L.A. City Attorney’s Office — But It’s Still Available For You To Read: See Link At End Of Article

A September report from the RAND Corporation showing that crime rates went up in neighborhoods where medical marijuana dispensaries were forced to close created lots of media interest and comment — and it apparently made someone very uncomfortable.

In a highly unusual move for RAND, as of Tuesday morning, the report is no longer available on its site.

Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s office was “vocal” in its criticism of last month’s RAND report showing that crime went up in neighborhoods when dispensaries were shut down — so RAND took their own report off their website.

Toke of the Town asked RAND why the report “has been withdrawn pending further review.”
“We took a fresh look at the study based in part upon questions raised by some folks following publication,” responded Warren Robak of RAND Corporation’s media relations department.
“We are continuing our review of the study and have now decided that while the review is pending, we should remove the report from circulation,” Robak wrote.
The L.A. City Attorney’s Office has been the organization most vocal in its criticism of the study, questioning its methods and conclusions,” Robak told me after I asked who, exactly, was “raising questions.”
Why, exactly, a city attorney should have input on the results of a scientific study is a question we should all be asking at this point.

“I don’t have an estimate of when the review will be complete and the study will reappear,” Robak told Toke of the Town. “People are working on this expeditiously.”
When the report was released on September 20, it was seen as dispelling the myth that there are inherent links between medical marijuana distribution centers and crime.
The study upon which the RAND report was based indicated 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 areas which still had 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.
The study challenged the common claim that medical marijuana dispensaries promote criminal activity, affirming 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 patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), when the report was released in September. “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.”
Report Still Available On ASA Site
ASA wisely preserved a copy of the RAND report in PDF format online — so while the RAND Corporation may have withdrawn the report due to the objections of prohibitionists, it is still available for you to read.
To read the original RAND report on medical marijuana dispensaries and crime in its entirety, click here [PDF].