Neighborhoods with medical marijuana dispensaries in Sacramento were no more likely to have crime than other neighborhoods, says a federally-funded study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, says U.S. News & World Report. Authors say their research may debunk a 2009 report by the California Police Chiefs Association that said marijuana dispensaries “have been tied to organized criminal gangs, foster large [marijuana growth] operations, and are often multi-million-dollar profit centers.”
Such arguments are common by opponents of medical marijuana legalization, which is on the books in 17 states and the District of Columbia. “There’s law enforcement and city officials debating whether these dispensaries were attracting undesirables, and there’s the other side, the dispensary owners, saying maybe these concerns were unfounded,” says co-author Nancy Kepple, a doctoral student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “But neither side had any evidence that supported either claim.” The UCLA study looked at crime rates in 95 areas of Sacramento in 2009, before the city enacted regulations on where dispensaries could be located and had fewer restrictions on what security measures dispensary operators had to meet.