Less Crime Near Pot Dispensaries

The L.A. Times reports on a new RAND Corp study.

Medical marijuana dispensaries — with storerooms of high-priced weed, registers brimming with cash and some clientele more interested in getting high than getting well — are often seen as magnets for crime, a perception deepened by a few high-profile murders.

But a report from the Rand Corp. reaches a startling conclusion: The opposite appears to be true.

In a study of crime near Los Angeles dispensaries — which the investigators call the most rigorous independent examination of its kind — the Santa Monica-based think tank found that crime actually increased near hundreds of pot shops after they were required to close last summer.

“What I would take away from it is maybe there should just be a little bit less fear about having dispensaries,” said Mireille Jacobson, a health economist who was the lead researcher. “Hopefully, this injects a little bit of science into the discussion.”

Of course, this should be freakin’ obvious, and certainly not the “startling conclusion” of writer John Hoeffel, despite the limited data used by RAND.

Yes, there are those with an anti-pot agenda who have tried to, without any real evidence, paint pot dispensaries as crime magnets, but nothing supports that, including common sense.

  • Dispensaries have significant security, including cameras, that actually add to the safety of their surrounding area.
  • People who buy medical marijuana (even people who don’t really need it, are less likely to be violent or combative as those who buy alcohol.
  • When there is no dispensary, marijuana sales are controlled by competing criminals on the street – more likely to result in crime.

Of course, it would be even better if you eliminated the tiered system of medical marijuana and simply had pot available for sale like cigarettes, shutting down almost all criminal connections.

Note: There was an earlier AP version of this story yesterday, which appeared to be quickly scrubbed from papers, and I was trying to track down the study to see if it really exists, but now it shows up on the RAND site. Here’s the full report from RAND.

[Thanks, Tom]
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24 Responses to Less Crime Near Pot Dispensaries

  1. Ben says:

    Another prohibitionist talking point slain! Shocked that RAND has the intellectual honesty to publish this!

  2. Bryan S. says:

    Well, they have to “startled” = By anything that puts marijuana or MMJ dispensaries. etc. – In a positive light…
    IF they want/expect to have any further studies funded by the government – they HAVE to have a Negative ‘thesis statement’ or expectation of results, otherwise the study won’t be funded, or excepted as legitimate, or allowed at all = if the ONDCP has any say in the matter… And they DO indeed tend have a substantial say about any proposed study that might not line-up with their mandate to (lie, or ‘whatever is necessary’) to “keep any Schedule I substance illegal” OR any/all efforts to have anything Schedule I – rescheduled at lower than Schedule I.
    Or *extreme sarcasm* (GOD forbid the thought), – Removed from the list of Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act altogether!

  3. claygooding says:

    Can you imagine the crime statistics comparison of a “Pot Cafe” and the bar on the corner?

    We were called to the Pot Cafe because a guy wouldn’t quit eating the decorative lighting as opposed to a brawl starting in the bar and spilling into the street.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Why waste the buffer space imagining that, when we can just ask the Sacramento Police? This was published on 4/21/2011:

      SACRAMENTO, CA- Sacramento police said local medical marijuana dispensaries do not tend to attract violent crime at a higher level than other businesses.

      “For the most part, dispensaries don’t have that much (of a) crime problem,” Sacramento Police spokesman Norm Leong said. “Although we get some complaints of traffic and stuff like that.”

      Owner of A Therapeutic Alternative dispensary Jeanne Larsson said a pair of bars across the street from a nearby middle school attract far more crime than her clinic, or others.

      “Armed robbery, drunk driving, credit card fraud, gang activity and a host of other things that have occured during school hours,” Larsson said.


      However, one of Ms. Larsson’s neighbors did say that life next to a dispensary wasn’t all peaches and cream:

      Across the street, Shannon Andery, who works at the Pulp Papery, said the clinic has not brought any crime.

      “The only problem we have is a lot of times we get customers who don’t know where the shop is and we have to direct them over there. That’s all,” Andery said.

      The thought of the Know Nothing prohibitionists accepting facts as facts, now that’s something that going to require imagination.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      One of the more interesting things about that piece of investigative journalism in my post above was it’s being published on 4/21. It followed an incident from the previous day which featured a gang member who was wanted for murder in Kansas committing a murder and two aggravated assaults in a dispute over gang affiliation or some such idiocy. The victims were just coming out of a dispensary.

      I didn’t know that there were dispensaries in Kansas. Could you tell me, is that Wicked Witch of the West a pure sativa? How well will it mitigate the neuropathy from osteo-arthritis? Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?

  4. Cannabis says:

    Grab a copy of the study while you can!

  5. tintguy says:

    Kerli will give the gov approved response: That this “crime wave” was caused by drawing all those cannabis criminals to one spot where they now continue their evil and despicable ways after the veil of false legality has been lifted. Now we must retriple our efforts in these areas to bring it back to the usual level of idiocy. Just think of the children lives that are at stake!!!

  6. Servetus says:

    Dispensaries in California are often zoned for rundown urban areas which normally don’t get visited by hordes of shoppers. The presence of more vehicle and foot traffic usually means there are more eyes and ears available to detect a crime in progress and to report it. In such cases, a reduction in crime involving pot dispensaries can be expected.

    The dispensaries are no slouch when confronted by robbers, either. One attempted robbery of a marijuana dispensary in California was botched when the proprietor led the thief outside the back door of the establishment and locked the door behind the robber, leaving him stranded outside. Police and a helicopter quickly moved in and caught the culprit who had retreated on foot and was discovered a few blocks away.

    Prohibition complicates everything. Were marijuana legal and available at every corner convenience store, crimes linked to cannabis growing and consumption would largely disappear.

  7. allan says:

    The chief of the LAPD said the same thing last election.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      LAPD chief: Pot clinics not plagued by crime

      By Tony Castro, Staff Writer
      Posted: 01/17/2010 12:00:51 AM PST

      “Purple OG” marijuana at a collective in Woodland Hills, CA Wednesday August 26, 2009. (Hans Gutknecht/LA Daily News) (Hans Gutknecht)
      Despite neighborhood complaints, most medical marijuana clinics are not typically the magnets for crime that critics often portray, according to Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck.

      “Banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries,” Beck said at a recent meeting with editors and reporters of the Los Angeles Daily News.

      Opponents of the pot clinics complain that they attract a host of criminal activity to the neighborhoods, including robberies. But a report that Beck recently had the department generate looking at citywide robberies in 2009 found that simply wasn’t the case.

      “I have tried to verify that because that, of course, is the mantra,” said Beck. “It doesn’t really bear out.”


  8. darkcycle says:

    I don’t understand WHY some astute politician hasn’t realized that by legalizing pot, he could instantly have a significant reduction in the number of felony arrests, and therefore a significant drop in crime he/she could point to for re-election campaign purposes. Simple. I’ve always wondered if that would work.

  9. Jhelion says:

    Surprised to see this from rand – they are typically in the front pocket of the prohibs. Sorry prohibs, science is not your friend.

  10. Francis says:

    Um… exactly what would the basis be for expecting that crime around dispensaries would be higher? Is it because of all the evidence that people who consume marijuana are more likely to become violent and commit crimes? Oh wait, no that’s alcohol. Or is it because legal, regulated markets have a demonstrated track record for being more violent then illegal, unregulated markets? Oh wait, no I’ve got that backwards.

    At best, we might expect to see a CORRELATION between the parts of town that are likely to be zoned for a dispensary and socioeconomic factors linked to higher crime (due to completely irrational anti-pot stigma), but the suggestion of a CAUSAL role between dispensaries and crime was always completely asinine.

  11. mr.wiggle says:

    well I checked my sources,and I’ve dug ass deep. And i found that this report or “study” was completely fabercated by marijuana junkies.Crime has actually skyrocketed 500% in and around dispensaries.because marijuana helps contribute to rape.murder and child aductions.the facts at JustThinkTwice tell me everything i need to make a valid desison.and Also found out that drug reformers, believe in anti-american behavior,So as an american it’s my duty to put a stop to unamerican Junkies such as urselves as having bullshit that you try to pass as science to the masses. get the hell out of my country you unamerican peices of flith go smoke your narcodics in places where it’s legal like, hell

    • Duncan20903 says:

      You know, the fact that you people have commited pre-meditated murder of the arts of sarcasm and parody is bad enough. It’s just not right to come around here and rub our noses it it.

      Christ on a crutch I thought that post was a joke. Every time I think that the Know Nothings have stretched their nonsense to the limit they prove me wrong by going even further beyond the limits of reality.

      Perhaps the Know Nothings might do a little better if they could learn how to correctly link to their propaganda dedicated web sites? I believe mr.wiggles meant to link to:

      Caution, remember to take your anti-nausea medicine before clicking through to that link.

      It is fascinating as well as mind boggling that in factual reality there is no such thing as too stupid to be alive.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      The story of Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle:


  12. claygooding says:

    thanks for your input mr wiggle,,,without people like you with your head firmly planted up your azz,,we would think no one loved us if we didn’t have your words of pure bull
    greeting us once in awhile.

  13. Servetus says:

    Assuming mr. wiggle is being serious, he should stop blaming drugs for increased crime and start blaming Twinkies instead.

  14. Duncan20903 says:

    If someone doesn’t believe it’s true I recommend that people look at “before & after” pictures of life in Oaksterdam.

    While not so scientific, but the accusations of increased criminal around dispensaries have been investigated and cleared of these bogus charges by the police in Los Angeles (details above), Sacramento (details above), Denver, Colorado Springs and (using government provided data) San Francisco.

    Marijuana shops not magnets for crime, police say
    September 14, 2010 9:47 AM


    Colorado Springs police have yet to find a correlation between the city’s budding medical marijuana industry and increased crime, said Sgt. Darrin Abbink, police spokesman. There’s no evidence the industry — which boasts about 175 businesses in Colorado Springs — disproportionally attracts robberies and break-ins.

    Analysis: Denver pot shops’ robbery rate lower than banks’
    By John Ingold
    The Denver Post
    Posted: 01/27/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
    “The analysis is the first time Denver police have sought to compare crime at dispensaries with that at other businesses, and it represents a best-guess at a crime rate for the city’s rapidly evolving dispensary industry. Denver police spokesman John White said he didn’t want to speculate on the bigger meaning of the numbers until the department can [figure out how to spin these unexpected numbers].


    S.F. Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Generate Only 11 Complaints in Five Years
    By Chris Roberts Fri., Jul. 15 2011 at 7:50 AM

    Pot clubs. They’re boring. You go in, you buy some pot, you leave. For all the clamor a new medical cannabis dispensary’s opening receives from jumpy John Q. Public, with a few notable exceptions, most we see these days resemble dentists’ offices, not dens of iniquity (and, we suspect, the drugs in dentists’ offices are more fun, if you’re into that kind of thing).


    Well, no one can argue with the assertion that medicinal grade N2O is a gas.

    • allan says:

      gosh… who woulda thunk it? Make it legit and it becomes boring to the fringely inquisitive.

      Nitrous… yuck…

      I spent a long early morning working security tracking down an automotive grade nitrous vendor at a festival many years back…

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