Neighborhoods with medical marijuana dispensaries are no more likely than other areas to have crime, according to a new study conducted in Sacramento, California.
The study analyzed crime statistics in 95 neighborhoods in Sacramento in 2009, before the city passed laws that regulated where dispensaries could be located, and increased restrictions on what types of security measures the facilities needed.
The researchers say they think security guards and cameras around the dispensaries may help prevent increased crime, according to U.S. News & World Report. It is also possible that the dispensaries do not increase crime any more than any other facility in a commercially zoned area, they wrote in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The study contradicts a report by the California Police Chiefs Association, released in 2009, that linked marijuana dispensaries with crime including drug dealing, sales to minors, and robberies of customers.
Study co-author Nancy Kepple, of the University of California, Los Angeles, noted that as more states have legalized medical marijuana, there have been growing concerns that dispensaries and their customers will become crime targets. “The reality is, we haven’t had any evidence to support those claims,” she said in a news release.
She noted that the study was conducted in only one city, at one point in time. Kepple said research that includes more cities, and follows crime rates over time, is needed.