One of the most popular criticisms by opponents of medical marijuana has to do with a perceived increase in local crime. Politicians and outraged community members frequently claim that marijuana dispensaries will increase local crime. Often, they seem reluctant to even accept the idea that this may not be the case even though nobody really knows the impact of dispensaries on crime as legalized marijuana is only in its infancy.
A new study recently published shows that the presence of dispensaries does not increase crime, at least in the Sacramento area. The July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs includes the results from a study conducted by University of California researchers. In Sacramento, there was no evidence that indicated that violent or property crime rose in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of marijuana dispensaries. Nancy Kepple, who was in charge of the research said the study was a “good first step” but cautioned that it “was not designed to address the bigger picture of how these dispensaries might be affecting neighborhoods.”
While the results are encouraging more research is clearly needed in other regions. Could this just be a phenomenon in Sacramento or will future research produce similar results? It may be important to realize that criminals are everywhere and that a marijuana dispensary may not be anymore motivating than robbing a bank. If someone is looking for an illegal quick money grab, perhaps the type of business is not their primary motivation. Many businesses keep cash on hand but we have not tried to shut down or drastically limit jewelry or department stores. Even if future research shows that marijuana dispensaries are attracting criminal activity, there will not be a level playing field until caregivers have access to banks. In short, dispensaries have no other discourse other than stockpiling cash. Since they likely will not have the same protection of a bank vault, criminals may target a dispensary simply because they know the money cannot be placed in a bank.
Social progression can be compared to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Though this article will not attempt to dissect the entire theory, the basic premise of Einstein’s idea is that time and space are relative and not fixed. The speed of an object will appear slower for someone already in motion as opposed to someone standing still. If an individual’s thoughts are not progressing, but rather staying still, then new ideas will pass them by at a much higher speed than someone already moving forward. Opponents of reform may have a difficult time interpreting the changing world in front of them.