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Closing Cannabis Dispensaries Is Linked With Higher Crime Rates, Study Finds

Crime rates go up when cannabis dispensaries are forced to close up shop, new data suggests.

Research conduced by the University of Southern California and the University of California reveals that closing medical marijuana shops is associated with heightened larceny, property crimes and other criminal activities.

The study, published in the Journal of Urban Economics, looked at the effects of dispensary closures on local crime rates in Los Angeles.

Researchers looked at crime data in the days immediately before and after the city ordered several hundred dispensary operators to close. They found an immediate rise in criminal activity – especially when it came to property crimes, larceny and car break-ins – in the neighbourhoods where dispensaries were closed compared to neighbourhoods where dispensaries stayed open.

“[W]e find no evidence that closures decreased crime,” the authors wrote. “Instead, we find a significant relative increase in crime around closed dispensaries.”

Researchers estimated that “an open dispensary provides over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented.”

They added: “Contrary to popular wisdom, we find an immediate increase in crime around dispensaries ordered to close relative to those allowed to remain open. The increase is specific to the type of crime most plausibly deterred by bystanders, and is correlated with neighborhood walkability.

“A likely … mechanism is that ‘eyes upon the street’ deter some types of crime.”

An abstract of the study, “Going to pot? The impact of dispensary closures on crime,” can be found here.

h/t NORML Blog

Banner Image: SPRINGFIELD, OR - FEBRUARY 16, 2016: Marijuana dispensaries like this one have popped up in large number due to a law change in Oregon legalizing pot for recreational purposes (Joshua Rainey Photography/Shutterstock).


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