Cannabis Dispensaries Linked to Decrease in Crime Rates

A new study on Denver neighborhoods shows a 19 percent crime drop rate when a cannabis dispensary is present.

While many communities have feared the opening of a legal cannabis dispensary would bring more crime to the neighborhood, research suggests that the opposite is true.

A new research article analyzing crime rates of neighborhoods in Denver, Colorado shows that marijuana dispensaries can lead to an overall reduction in crime in neighborhoods.

“The results imply that an additional dispensary in a neighborhood leads to a reduction of 17 crimes per month per 10,000 residents, which corresponds to roughly a 19 percent decline relative to the average crime rate over the sample period,” the study’s author wrote.

The effects of dispensaries on crime rates were discovered by a senior economist, Jeffrey Brinkman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and senior community research analyst, David Mok-Lamme of Rocky Mountain Health Plan. The team examined the impact of cannabis legalization by using “detailed micro-level data” from Denver neighborhood crime rates.

Colorado, of which Denver is the capital of, has had legal marijuana sales since 2014.

According to reports, the researchers used local monthly crime-related data over the span of January 2013 to December 2016. By documenting the patterns in retail dispensary locations over time, the analysts found the decrease in crime was “highly localized, with no evidence of spillover benefits to adjacent neighborhoods.”

In conclusion, the study’s authors wrote, “Our results are consistent with theories that predict that marijuana legalization will displace illicit criminal organizations and decrease crime through changes in security behaviors or substitution toward more harmful substances … Lastly, there is no evidence that increased marijuana use itself results in additional crime.”

The research article, “Not in my backyard? Not so fast. The effect of marijuana legalization on neighborhood crime” is set for publication in the September edition of the journal, Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Cannabis Dispensaries’ Positive Impact on Communities

The results of the Denver neighborhood crime analysis follow a trend of evidence proving cannabis dispensaries can have a positive impact on the surrounding communities.

A recent study published in the Journal of Urban Economics suggests that medical marijuana dispensaries increase safety in local neighborhoods.  A research team from the University of California, Irvine found that following the closure of dispensaries, neighborhoods experienced a 12percent  upsurge in crime in the surrounding area.

Cannabis dispensaries have not only been associated with less crime, but have positively impacted neighborhoods in other ways. A study published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy found the value of homes increased when a dispensary opened near the site. The study found that following the opening of dispensaries within .25 miles, home values went up nearly 8 percent on average and prices increased nearly 5 percent on average for homes located within .25 and .5 miles.

A similar study published by the CATO Institute found that the value of Denver houses within 0.1 miles of a retail cannabis shop increased by an average of 8.4 percent, approximately $27,000, after the opening of a dispensary.

Where to Go for More Cannabis News

Stay informed on the latest in cannabis news. Check out our news page for weekly news reports on cannabis in politics, business, and scientific research.