As new states work to implement medical marijuana programs, providers frequently perform extensive community outreach to address questions and concerns about newly proposed facilities. The topic of how dispensaries might impact public safety in their neighborhoods comes up frequently and operators work especially hard to ensure that medical marijuana is dispensed in a way that promotes safety for both patients and the community. An encouraging new study helps demonstrate the positive role that well-regulated facilities can play when it comes to crime prevention:
A new study published in the July issue of the Journal of Urban Economics finds that contrary to popular belief, medical marijuana dispensaries (MMDs) reduce crime in their immediate areas.
In the study, titled, “Going to pot? The impact of dispensary closures on crime,” researchers Tom Y. Chang from the USC Marshall School of Business, and Mireille Jacobson from The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine, examined the short-term mass closing of hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles that took place in 2010.
“Contrary to popular wisdom, we found an immediate increase in crime around dispensaries ordered to close relative to those allowed to remain open,” said Jacobson.
“Our results demonstrate that the dispensaries were not the crime magnets that they were often described as, but instead reduced crime in their immediate vicinity,” said Jacobson. [Science Daily]
This result may come as a surprise to some, but to anyone familiar with professional dispensary operations, it makes a great deal of sense. The researchers note that the public safety benefits dispensaries create are similar to those of restaurants in that they attract customers and this added street presence helps deter crime. Empty storefronts, in contrast, contribute to crime because there are fewer people monitoring activity in the area.
Dispensaries also offer the added benefit of extensive security features that other retail businesses often don’t provide. Sophisticated security systems, 24-hour cameras, and trained security personnel all contribute to public safety and serve to deter criminal activity in the area surrounding dispensary locations. Operators also frequently keep in touch with local law-enforcement and work collaboratively to prevent crime before it happens.
As a business that takes safety very seriously, we’re encouraged to see researchers confirm our belief that medical marijuana dispensaries can contribute to public safety as well as public health. We’ll continue working hard to ensure that growing support for medical marijuana is well-deserved.