Study Finds No Link Between Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Increased Crime

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.

4 Responses to Study Finds No Link Between Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Increased Crime

  1. Roy | June 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I was extremely dismayed reading this report; in San Diego we have experienced the opposite. San Diego has experienced increased violent and property crimes from Marijuana Dispensaries, which operate illegally against city, state and federal law.

    It occurred to me strange that such a “report” would even be noteworthy or appropriate to post/print based upon an analysis of just one city – Sacramento. It appears the researcher has a bias and for some reason felt it necessary to mislead the public by claiming marijuana dispensaries are safe. They are not. One example is an analysis from the Center for Community Research shows City of San Diego census tracts with Marijuana Dispensaries have twice as many violent and property crimes as those census tracts without Marijuana Dispensaries. In addition we see weekly reports of Marijuana Dispensaries being robbed in San Diego. With this information, a conclusion and subsequent “report” that Marijuana Dispensaries ARE linked to crime could easily be made.

    We need accurate unbiased reporting. It’s really irresponsible to throw out some report based upon one city and then claim in the headline that marijuana dispensaries aren’t linked to crime. We expect more from Join Together and The Partnership. At a minimum to counterbalance this report’s misguided conclusion I would suggest it prudent for a second “report” be posted/printed which shows that marijuana dispensaries do increase crime, so the public has an accurate account of what is occurring and what we are seeing in our neighborhoods.

    • Jeff | June 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Hi Roy.
      Nice and thoughtful and documented comments. However, I would like to add that I DO expect The Partnership and JT to print exactly this type of article. To do otherwise is to censor information based on either personal or systemic bias. The publishing of such information shows good judgment and sound reporting in that all issues have two sides. I also noticed you took them to task for speaking to one city but then you, yourself only spoke to San Diego? Also, increased census track crime where there are dispensaries could simply be because these facilities are forced to exist in lower income/disadvantaged neighborhoods that have higher crime in general. Correlation doesn’t always mean cause and effect. Each argument has two sides and issues should be decided on the basis of fact, not personal bias nor insidious “silence” on subjects with a view point with which we may disagree.

  2. Luis | June 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I agree that decisions on this need to be made on the facts and not on hysteria or popular beliefs of what a dispensary in a neighborhood means. I live in a neighborhood with a dispensary and did not know it was just one block from my home until it was on the news for something unrelated to any crime.

  3. ChrisKelly | June 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I live within one block of one of the new dispenseries in Wash DC, which is not yet open. We shall see what happens here, but I too doubt that they “increase crime”. Doesnt make sense that they would. I see it more like having a pharmacy in the neighborhood. Does CVS or Duane Reed increase crime?

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