Green Cure on WeedMaps, a local non-profit medical cannabis dispensary.
The RAND Corp. reviewed police crime statistics for ten days before and after city officials in Los Angeles closed several cannabis dispensaries last summer when a new local ordinance went into effect. RAND researchers examined the neighborhoods of 170 businesses that remained open and another 430 which were ordered to close. That’s a pretty big sample.
Well, well, well, what do you know? Crime increased as much as 60% in areas within three blocks of a shuttered dispensary compared to three blocks around operating dispensaries. I’m sure this isn’t what the RAND Corp; expected to find. Los Angeles City councilman Ed Reyes called the report an “eye opener.” Via the Washington Post:
“If medical marijuana dispensaries are causing crime, then there should be a drop in crime when they close,” said Mireille Jacobson, a RAND senior economist and the study’s lead author. “Individual dispensaries may attract crime or create a neighborhood nuisance, but we found no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise.”
Crime was among the concerns that prompted the City Council to pass the ordinance that put strict guidelines on the pot clinics and forced many of them to close. Law enforcement authorities have long argued collectives attract crime because they often handle large amounts of cash and thieves can resell marijuana. Two workers at different dispensaries were killed during robberies in June 2010.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca went one step further last September when he said nearly all dispensaries operate as criminal enterprises, a claim that infuriated medical marijuana supporters who have said law enforcement officials have resorted to scare tactics to advance their agenda.
“They have perpetuated this myth that there is more crime associated with collectives,” said James Shaw of the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, an advocacy group for medicinal marijuana users. “This council should be emboldened to revise the ordinance so it’s not so draconian to the patients and their associations.”
Damn right they should revise it! For readers outside of Los Angeles, to give you a feel for things here: at one point the city claimed there were up to 900 medical marijuana dispensaries. Whether that’s accurate or not, I can’t say, but there were and there still are a LOT of them. More than there are McDonald’s or Starbucks by a long-shot. As in several times more and then combine that total. From my apartment, I can walk (not drive) to a dozen or more of them. Each and every one of them is a law-abiding business as far as I can tell. Not one has even the whiff of being a “criminal enterprise.” Some of them operate just like, say, a nice wine store would. Since they provide more foot traffic in the areas they operate in—and usually have security guards—maybe this is the sole reason the seem to have a dampening effect on crime?
But who cares what the reason for lower crime is? I thought lower crime was supposed to be a good thing? What is the City Council doing closing down lawfully run businesses that provide MORE jobs than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined? These dispensaries pay taxes, too. The Los Angeles City Council needs to mind its own business and leave these businesses alone.