Medicinal (and, ahem, recreational) marijuana aims to soothe, ease, and relax users; take away said users’ pot and be prepared to face the consequences.
A report released Tuesday by the RAND Corp., a Santa Monica-based think tank, revealed that after hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries were forced to close in Los Angeles last year, crime rates rose significantly in nearby neighborhoods.
Law enforcement agencies have long been after these dispensaries, arguing that the large amounts of cash are a magnet for thieves, who often go on to resell marijuana. Yet, after what investigators are calling “the most rigorous independent examination of its kind” of LA dispensaries, it appears that the city might need to rethink their position.
Researchers gathered information and crime reports from 600 dispensaries in Los Angeles County, of which 430 were ordered to close by City Council. They then looked at the 10 days prior to when the ordinance took effect (June 7, 2010) and the 10 days after the shutdown. They found a 59% increase in crime within three-tenths of a mile of the closed dispensaries and 24% increase within six-tenths of a mile.
“If medical marijuana dispensaries are causing crime, then there should be a drop in crime when they close,” said Mireille Jacobson, the RAND study’s lead author and senior economist. Researchers went on to explain that open dispensaries probably strengthened the security of the immediate area, if anything, due to their security cameras and guards, as well as an increase in foot traffic and trumping illegal street sales of marijuana.
While the Los Angeles Police Department isn’t completely convinced, they also reveal that much of the complaints from neighbors of the dispensaries deal with issues of loitering, double parking and noise, rather than actual crime.
Well, then. It sounds as if these dispensaries are more of an inconvenience than an actual threat to the community.