University of Southern California researchers assessed the impact of dispensary closures on crime rates in the city of Los Angeles. Investigators analyzed crime data in the days immediately prior to and then immediately after the city ordered several hundred operators to be closed.
Researchers identified an immediate increase in criminal activity – particularly property crime, larceny, and auto break ins – in the areas where dispensary operations were forced to close as compared to crime rates in those neighborhoods where marijuana retailers remained open for business. “[W]e find no evidence that closures decreased crime,” they reported. “Instead, we find a significant relative increase in crime around closed dispensaries.”
“Open dispensaries provide over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented,” authors concluded.
The findings are consistent with those of prior studies determining that dispensary operations are not associated with ‘spillover effects’ in local communities, such as increased teen marijuana use or an uptick in property crimes.