Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Don’t Increase Criminal Activity, Study Finds

BONN, GERMANY — The operation of medical cannabis dispensaries is not associated with increases in either violent crime or property crime, according to the findings of a discussion paper published by the IZA Research Institute.

Researchers affiliated with the RAND Corporation investigated whether the establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries in California effects local crime rates – including rates of violent crimes, property crimes, and substance abuse crimes.

Authors “found no evidence that ordinances allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries lead to an increase in crime. In fact, we see some evidence of a reduction in property crimes.”
Their findings are consistent with those of prior studies, such as those here, here, and here.

Authors did acknowledge an association between dispensaries and DUI offenses – a finding that is consistent with at least one other study.  By contrast, data published in the American Journal of Public Health reports that dispensaries are associated with a decline in fatal motor vehicle accidents among drivers ages 25 to 44 years old.

RAND’s investigators concluded: “Our study appears to reinforce the conclusions from other studies that fail to find an increase in the type of crime predicted by law enforcement. We find no effects on burglary, robberies, or assaults, which are the types of crimes one would expect if dispensaries were prime targets as a result of their holding large amounts of cash. … Our findings suggest that it is possible to regulate these markets and find a common ground between safety and access to medical marijuana.”

Full text of the study, “High on Crime? Exploring the Effects of Marijuana Dispensary Laws on Crime in California Counties,” appears online. NORML’s fact-sheets: ‘Marijuana regulation and Crime Rates’ and ‘Societal Impacts of Cannabis Dispensaries’ are available online.

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