Many opponents of marijuana legalization have often argued that legalization would open the door to higher crime rates within the neighborhoods where cannabis dispensaries are located. However, a study done in Denver has shown that in the neighborhoods where cannabis dispensaries are opened, crime rates tend to reduce in comparison to the neighborhoods without marijuana dispensaries.
The researchers write that when a marijuana dispensary is opened in an area, a crime reduction rate of 19 percent is noted relative to the overall crime rates within the period under study. This monthly reduction in crime was computed on the basis of neighborhoods with 10,000 residents.
The data used in this study was taken from the monthly crime-related data released by different localities in Denver, Colorado between January 2013 and December 2016. Recreational marijuana sales started in 2014 across the state, and this provides a detailed data set for analysis.
The researchers also took a close look at the location of medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries that opened and those that later closed in different parts of Denver. The team concluded that there was a tendency for marijuana dispensaries to open in the poorer neighborhoods or those with larger populations of minorities.
The team also found that during the period of inquiry, crime rates in Denver increased by about 1.7 percent. The exception to this general rule were neighborhoods in which marijuana dispensaries were opened.
While the researchers admitted that the positive effects of opening a marijuana dispensary were localized in terms of the reduction in crime rates, they were however convinced that when these good effects in different neighborhoods hosting marijuana dispensaries are aggregated, a general benefit can accrue to the entire city.
As for the actual crimes for which a reduction was noted, nonviolent crime was the most noticeable. These included simple assault, trespass, criminal mischief and public disorder, among others.
Regarding drug-related crime, the research revealed that there was a reduction of 2.3 such crimes crimes each month for a neighborhood having 10,000 residents. There were also slight declines in the number of crimes related to heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
The researchers were of the view that the increased presence of police in areas with marijuana dispensaries could explain why the crimes related to other drugs like cocaine may have reduced in those areas.
These results give further proof to the conclusions of an earlier study in 2017 which showed that the opening of alcohol retail establishments brought more crime to an area when compared to the opening of marijuana retail facilities.
Analysts believe that marijuana industry actors like Nabis Holdings (CSE: NAB) (OTC: NABIF) (FRA: 71P) and Neutra Corp. (OTCQB: NTRR) feel the industry is vindicated when such research findings are made showing that some of the negative effects attributed to the industry aren’t true.
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