A recent study strikes yet another blow against some age-old prohibitionist rhetoric. Some of those who are still against outright legalization at the federal, state or local levels will try to make the claim that medical cannabis dispensaries are partially to blame for increases in crime in communities.
The study, published by the journal Preventative Medicine, shows that there is no link between neighborhood crime rates and the existence of locations where sales of medical marijuana take place. Locations that sell mostly tobacco and alcohol, though, are associated with an increased prevalence in local crime. Who would have thought? Alcohol consumption can lead to increased violence and people making bad decisions, including potentially committing crimes.
A research team – that included professionals from the University of California, San Jose State University, and the University of Kansas – conducted the study. The researchers took a close look at the geographical relationship, if any, between medical marijuana dispensaries and crime rates in south Los Angeles, California.
“Results indicated that mean property and violent crime rates within 100-foot buffers of tobacco shops and alcohol outlets – but not medical marijuana dispensaries – substantially exceeded community-wide mean crime rates and rates around grocery/convenience stores. Thus, study findings provide the first empirical evidence that tobacco shops may constitute public health threats that associate with crime and violence in US low-income urban communities of color,” the study says.
There is indeed no evidence of a link in increased crime rates and the existence of medical cannabis facilities. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that cannabis dispensaries can perhaps even deter crime – at least in Los Angeles. In 2017, NORML reported on a study that stated “Open dispensaries provide over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented.”
Of course, there are just two examples of studies done on one particular area, but is still a solid piece of evidence to refute the notion that legal cannabis locations are somehow associated with an increase in crime rates. As with so many other areas regarding legal cannabis a whole, more studies need to be conducted. Hopefully we will see more studies like this one conducted in more locations, especially as we see an increase in medical and recreational legalization.
What do you think? Do you think this study is accurate? In what areas should other studies like this one be conducted? Let us know in the comments.