Medical marijuana dispensaries — with storerooms of high-priced weed, registers brimming with cash, and some clients more interested in getting high than getting well — are often seen as magnets for crime, but a Rand Corp. study reported by the Los Angeles Times reaches a startling conclusion: The opposite appears to be true.
A study of crime near Los Angeles dispensaries found that crime actually increased near hundreds of pot shops after they were required to close last summer. “What I would take away from it is maybe there should just be a little bit less fear about having dispensaries,” said Mireille Jacobson, a health economist who was the lead researcher. “Hopefully, this injects a little bit of science into the discussion.” The researchers compared the 10 days before the city’s medical pot law took effect June 7, 2010, with the 10 days after, when many of the more than 400 illegal dispensaries shut down — if only briefly. They found a 59 percent increase in crime within three-tenths of a mile of a closed dispensary compared to an open one and a 24 percent increase within six-tenths of a mile. The city attorney’s office, which has argued in court proceedings that the number of dispensaries needs to be reduced to deal with “well-documented crime,” called the report’s conclusions “highly suspect and unreliable.”