Dispensary Crime Statistics 2018-2019

Marijuana Dispensary Crime Statistics 2019

  1. Market Watch has reported that unlike liquor stores and payday lenders, which often see an increase in neighborhood crime rates, medical marijuana dispensaries are not correlated to an increase in violent crime for the surrounding area. They do, however, see an increase with property crimes such as vandalism and shoplifting according to a study from the University of California, Riverside which focuses on crime rates in South Los Angeles.
  2. A recent study, Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime, estimates that with legalizaton violent crime fell by an average of 13 percent when a US state on the Mexican border legalized medical marijuana. This is in part thanks to a decrease in cartel-related smuggling and less violence associated with this. While the cartels are also smuggling in other drugs such as cocaine and heroin, marijuana has the largest market in the US. Legalization of marijuana has drastically cut into the need for this black-market source. Further in from the Mexican border, Colorado and Washington also saw a decrease in organized drug cartels as large-scale marijuana producers legally set up production.
  3. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reports that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries was not significantly related to an increase in violent crimes, but also noted that additional studies were needed to solidify this correlation. Authors of this study also noted a similarity between traditional commercial retailers and medical marijuana retailers regarding the impact they have on local crime statistics. Limitations of this study are notable, however, as they looked at crime rates in only one city during one year and the authors noted longer studies are needed to fully understand the issues these new businesses are bringing into the communities of which they are a part.
  4.  Marijuana Moment reports that rather than being the target of violent crime such as armed robbery, as many opposed to marijuana legalization often claim, medical marijuana establishments often sap money directly from the unregulated market, forcing their gradual demise. The cash-only nature of the marijuana industry, which has incredibly limited access to most federally-regulated bank accounts, has been the driving force behind many safety measures established by these new businesses.
  5.  Bridget Freisthler, a researcher at Ohio State University, has reported in the Journal of Primary Prevention that while neighborhoods in Denver directly surrounding medical and recreational marijuana stores saw a decrease in crime, the adjacent areas did see an increase in property crimes of about 84 percent. Additionally, it was reported that alcohol outlets were responsible for about four times more violent crimes than those that sold marijuana. Despite this difference, however, Freisthler did caution that over time crime rates will naturally increase and these statistics should be looked at again in the future.
  6.  The Journal of Urban Economics reports that medical marijuana dispensaries had a similar impact as restaurants did in impacting the walkability score of a neighborhood. Appeasing the common fear that a medical or recreational marijuana dispensary would increase crime in a given neighborhood, researchers have reported that these dispensaries had a similar impact to a neighborhood’s crime rate as other retail establishments. Countering this, however, was the Journal of Primary Prevention which reported that a study out of Denver reported an increase in property crimes near marijuana outlets.
  7.  In an interesting study, two researchers from the University of Southern California and University of California have found an immediate increase in crime when a medical or recreational marijuana dispensary is ordered to close. Larceny, mostly theft from vehicles, was leading crime following the shuttering of these businesses. They conclude that the increased pedestrian foot traffic that helps to keep crime low and walkability high, similar to what can be seen with the majority of retail businesses.
  8.  In 2017, Brooke Staggs reported for the Cannifornian that marijuana-related businesses help keep neighborhoods safe by increasing walkability and decreasing crime, contrary to popular assumption. Staggs reports that studies were done in Los Angeles in 2010 following the shuttering most of the city’s nearly 600 dispensaries. Following these mass closures, researchers saw a 12 to 23 percent increase in various types of crimes. Researchers likened the increase in crime shown following the closure of a marijuana shop is like that seen when a food establishment is closed following major health code violation. Another way of looking at this is that an estimated $30,000 is saved per year by preventing petty theft in the surrounding areas. The decrease in foot traffic decreases the amount of people in the area to keep an eye on the area. This is known as the ‘eyes upon the street’ theory developed by Jane Jacobs.
  9.  10TV out of Ohio reports on a local Ohio State University researcher’s work reporting a huge concern for areas adjacent to medical and recreational marijuana retailers. Over a three-year study during the transition from medical to recreational marijuana in Colorado, property crime increased. Researchers point out that the areas with increased crime rates are often residential neighborhoods bordering the commercial districts. While the businesses often use tactics such as security and cameras to decrease crimes, they only do so for the immediate vicinity and not the extended community of which they are a part.
  10. Josh Jardine with The Stranger reports that many citizens hold the widespread assumption that medical or recreational marijuana dispensaries will attract crime to the nearby neighborhoods. Contrary to this, however, many studies have found that marijuana stores are a boon to the local economy by creating jobs, raising significant tax revenue and by bringing in new small businesses to communities. Jardine also points out that many of the safety precautions that these cash-only businesses take also help keep the surrounding neighborhood safe in a by-proxy manner. Guards, ID checkpoints, visible cameras and well-lit interiors are all ways that can promote safety and reduce crimes.
  11. According to Forbes, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department has reported an increase in violent crimes in the areas of Coverdale, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Petaluma as legal marijuana has attracted criminals from the east coast. This is a mirroring of what former Attorney General Jeff Sessions reported happening in rural Colorado as marijuana was legalized in that state. A major fueling of the violent crime is the big money involved in freshly-developed expansive marijuana businesses. Forbes points out that while crime rates have decreased in states that have legalized marijuana in some form, the problems are coming from the interaction with criminals from prohibition states.