Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Attract Less Crime Than Alcohol or Tobacco Stores, Study Finds

Opponents of cannabis legalization often argue that allowing sales in their neighborhoods will lead to an increase in crime, but a new federally-funded study has found evidence to the contrary. Researchers from four universities in Kansas and California, partially supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published a study this week that analyzed crime rates near medical cannabis dispensaries in South Los Angeles and compared them to crime rates near alcohol stores and tobacco shops in the same neighborhoods.

Researchers examined crime data from 2014 and noted the number of felony property or violent crimes that occurred within 100 to 1000 feet of all three kinds of retailers in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods in South LA. The researchers found that “property and violent crime rates within 100-foot buffers of tobacco shops and alcohol outlets — but not MMDs [medical marijuana dispensaries]— substantially exceeded community-wide mean crime rates.”

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