How To Open a Dispensary in Los Angeles


How To Open a Dispensary MattJacobsen

How To Open a Dispensary in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA is widely known as the medical marijuana dispensary capital of the US. Although hundreds were shut down (mainly due to the city’s unfounded fear that rampant crime would result due to too many dispensaries) at one point Los Angeles had over 600 medical cannabis dispensaries operating- so many that it was said that there were more dispensaries than starbucks in LA.

However, a new study just released by the nonprofit RAND Corp. showed that when hundreds of medical cannabis dispensaries were closed in LA, crime rates actually increased in neighboring areas. Statements made by law enforcement officials stating that the storefronts were magnets for crime were proved to be unfounded.

The report from RAND looked at crime reports for ten days before and ten days after city officials demanded closure of the dispensaries last summer after a new citywide ordinance went into place. In contrast to what law enforcement feared, RAND’s analysis showed that crime actually went up close to sixty percent within 3 neighboring blocks of a dispensary that was ordered to close in contrast to the same criteria for the dispensaries that remained open for business.

Mireille Jacobson, senior economist for RAND and lead author of the study went on to say, “If medical marijuana dispensaries cause crime, then there should be a drop in crime when they close.” “Individual dispensaries may attract crime or create a neighborhood nuisance, but we found no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise.”

Rampant Crime was the chief concern of the Los Angeles City Council to enact ordinances that placed strict regulations on the storefront dispensaries and forced so many of them to close up shop. Law enforcement officials have contended for a long time that dispensaries draw in crimes because they have large figures of money in their possession and that thieves who rob the dispensaries can easily resell the marijuana.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca took it even further further when he stated that “nearly all dispensaries operate as criminal enterprises,” a statement that enraged medical marijuana advocates who believe that law enforcement authorities resort to scare tactics and fear to advance their own agenda.

“They have perpetuated this myth that there is more crime associated with collectives,” said James Shaw of the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, an advocacy group for medicinal marijuana users. “This council should be emboldened to revise the ordinance so it’s not so draconian to the patients and their associations.”

Researchers looked at crime reports for over 600 dispensaries in Los Angeles County — 170 that remained open and 430 ordered to cease operations. They discovered that the further away from the dispensaries the less crime there was: within six blocks of a closed dispensary crime rose by 25 percent and by ten blocks there was no discernible change in crime rates.

The study disclosed that some of the factors for the crime increase may be due to the dispensaries having security cameras and armed guards, there was less foot traffic and fewer police patrols.

Legal challenges still remain over whether city officials have the right to close dispensaries since state law allows medical marijuana collectives. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

A judge in December 2010 ruled certain portions of the city ordinance were unconstitutional.

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