Study of the Day: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Don't Attract Crime

UCLA researchers look at crime locations in Sacramento and find that, contrary to what many assume, they don't revolve around medical marijuana outlets.

Study of the DayGirish Menon/Shutterstock

PROBLEM: As more and more states in the U.S. legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, many fear that the shops that sell the drug and their customers will become targets for crime.

METHODOLOGY: To see if the locations of medical marijuana stores are associated with crime, University of California, Los Angeles, researchers by Nancy J. Kepple and Bridget Freisthler looked at violent and property crime rates and the density of medical marijuana dispensaries in 95 different areas of Sacramento in 2009. They controlled for neighborhood attributes associated with crime, including commercially zoned areas, percentage of one-person households, and unemployment rate.

RESULTS: As expected, commercial districts as well as neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and many young singles did tend to have more property and violent crime. Kepple and Freisthler found no correlation, however, between crime and the concentration of medical marijuana shops after accounting for these factors.

CONCLUSION: Medical marijuana outlets in Sacramento are not linked to crime.

IMPLICATION: Kepple stresses that the study is far from the final word, since it only focuses on a few neighborhoods at one point in time. She says in a statement: "The more research that's done, the more complete a picture we'll have."

SOURCE: The full study, "Exploring the Ecological Association Between Crime and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries," is published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that affects children. Could marijuana oils alleviate their seizures?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Health

Just In