A new study casts doubt on many law enforcement agencies' assertion that medical marijuana dispensaries contribute to local street crime.
In fact, minor crime rises markedly in surrounding neighborhoods when dispensaries close, at least over the short term, according to a study released Tuesday by the nonpartisan RAND Corp.
"Overall crime increased almost 60 percent in the blocks surrounding closed clinics in the 10 days following their closing," the study said.
Researchers studied crime before and after a large number of dispensaries were shut in Los Angeles and found that incidents, such as break-ins, rose near the closed dispensaries when compared to neighborhoods where dispensaries remained open.
The study suggested several theories for what might drive these results, including the loss of on-site security and surveillance, a reduction in foot traffic, a resurgence in outdoor drug activity and a change in police efforts.
Steph Sherer, executive director of Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said her organization has reached the same conclusions, but "law enforcement has largely ignored or refuted these findings" as various cities have closed dispensaries, put a moratorium on new ones or banned them altogether.
"Dispensary regulations bring greater oversight and less crime to local communities," she said.
-Inside Bay Area
Maybe that's why law enforcement wants to close them down.