May 142010
 May 14, 2010

Earlier this week, the San Francisco Police Commission held a meeting in which the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries and crime was addressed. This is not a new area of medical marijuana policy; conservatives and SOME members of law enforcement cling to the argument that ‘medical marijuana dispensaries increase crime in the areas surrounding them.’ In fact, they cling to it so much, it is virtually the only argument that they ever provide in opposition to medical marijuana dispensaries. So with that being said, if their single argument doesn’t hold water, then they should just go crawl back into their holes, right?

I think it’s pretty obvious how I feel about this issue. But I’m far from an expert on the issue, so I will defer to members of law enforcement. At the previously mentioned meeting, San Francisco Police Captain Denise Schmitt said, “There’s a lot of information out there and I don’t think it either proves or disproves an increase in crime.”

San Francisco Police Commander John Luftus tried to pull a fast one on the Commission, by making generic claims such as, “Consequences with having a medical cannabis dispensary in the community range from serious crimes including homicide and robbery to quality of life issues such as loitering, additional refuse in the air, and, yes, double-parking…” But when asked if the crimes that have been reported were EVER LINKED to local dispensaries, Loftus folded like a cheap suit. He said, “there is no definite connection on any of the reported crimes to these clubs.” Nice try Mr. Loftus! Maybe you should go back to propaganda training before you decide to speak in public again…

The fact of the matter is, San Francisco is not alone on this issue. Members from law enforcement in other cities (very reluctantly) have also spoken out, further debunking the ‘medical marijuana dispensary increasing crime’ myth. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has stated, “Banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries. I have tried to verify that because that, of course, is the mantra. It doesn’t really bear out.” In 2009, the LAPD received reports of 71 robberies at the more than 350 banks in the city, compared to 47 robberies at medical marijuana facilities which number at least 800.

It wasn’t that long ago that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was reporting a ‘significant increase’ in crime around dispensaries, and that medical marijuana was going to result in a huge crime wave across the State. Do you remember that Mr. Suthers? After January, you haven’t been as vocal on that issue? Why is that…?

Maybe it’s because, only a few months later, in Denver, police statisticians found that dispensaries were burglarized at 16.8 percent, which is equal to pharmacies. Compare that to liquor stores (19.7%) and banks (33.7%). When you dig further into the math used by the statisticians, you will see that there were only 8 robberies/burglaries at dispensaries in Denver in 2009. That means that the 16.8 percent is a pro-rated number, and is likely even lower!

I found a GREAT article that dealt with crime in larger cities in California from 2007 to 2008. The author of the article made a great point; if dispensaries caused spikes in criminal activity, then logically California would see the largest effect during this time. Here are the stats that the author found:

Anaheim
Violent Crime: (-7.8%) Robbery: (-1.38%) Aggravated Assault: (-11.52%)
Property Crime: (-5.31%) Burglary: (-12.21%) Larceny: (-1.09%) Vehicle Theft: (-14.26%)

Bakersfield
Violent Crime: (5.92%) Robbery: (12.56%) Aggravated Assault: (1.57%)
Property Crime: (.64%) Burglary: (17.84%) Larceny: (-3.83%) Vehicle Theft: (-5.7%)

Chula Vista
Violent Crime: (-9.66%) Robbery: (-18.94%) Aggravated Assault: (-2.17%)
Property Crime: (-10.51%) Burglary: (-7.78%) Larceny: (-11.9%) Vehicle Theft: (-9.56%)

Fremont
Violent Crime: (-5.12%) Robbery: (0%) Aggravated Assault: (-8.98%)
Property Crime: (-5.41%) Burglary: (-15.09%) Larceny: (-0.29%) Vehicle Theft: (-9.83%)

Fresno
Violent Crime: (-8.58%) Robbery: (-10.87%) Aggravated Assault: (-6.15%)
Property Crime: (5.18%) Burglary: (7.08%) Larceny: (8.10%) Vehicle Theft: (-6.11%)

Irvine
Violent Crime: (-9.79%) Robbery: (22.73%) Aggravated Assault: (-26.32%)
Property Crime: (-1.38%) Burglary: (-29.04%) Larceny: (6.32%) Vehicle Theft: (-5.58%)

Long Beach
Violent Crime: (-7.82%) Robbery: (-1.26%) Aggravated Assault: (-13.16%)
Property Crime: (0.09%) Burglary: (6.02%) Larceny: (-2.43%) Vehicle Theft: (0.42%)

Los Angeles
Violent Crime: (-4.51%) Robbery: (-0.44%) Aggravated Assault: (-8.73%)
Property Crime: (-0.63%) Burglary: (0.49%) Larceny: (0.29%) Vehicle Theft: (-3.83%)

Modesto
Violent Crime: (-3.42%) Robbery: (-5.09%) Aggravated Assault: (-3.64%)
Property Crime: (-9.61%) Burglary: (7.99%) Larceny: (-10.65%) Vehicle Theft: (-25.31%)

Oakland
Violent Crime: (3.94%) Robbery: (-4.24%) Aggravated Assault: (11.11%)
Property Crime: (-9.2%) Burglary: (-5.36%) Larceny: (-0.44%) Vehicle Theft: (-18.89%)

Riverside
Violent Crime: (1.53%) Robbery: (5.83%) Aggravated Assault: (-3.26%)
Property Crime: (-0.85%) Burglary: (-0.85%) Larceny: (2.1%) Vehicle Theft: (-12.19%)

Sacramento
Violent Crime: (-9.13%) Robbery: (-12.34%) Aggravated Assault: (-6.91%)
Property Crime: (-7.79%) Burglary: (-3.8%) Larceny: (-4.12%) Vehicle Theft: (-19.15%)

San Bernardino
Violent Crime: (-3.53%) Robbery: (-9.63%) Aggravated Assault: (2.48%)
Property Crime: (-6.46%) Burglary: (4.04%) Larceny: (-5.32%) Vehicle Theft: (-17.4%)

San Diego
Violent Crime: (-4.5%) Robbery: (-3.63%) Aggravated Assault: (-7.34%)
Property Crime: (-8.61%) Burglary: (0.83%) Larceny: (-5.67%) Vehicle Theft: (-19.26%)

San Jose
Violent Crime: (-3.09%) Robbery: (5.24%) Aggravated Assault: (-7.09%)
Property Crime: (-7.33%) Burglary: (-22.30%) Larceny: (3.12%) Vehicle Theft: (-18.46%)

Santa Ana
Violent Crime: (-11.35%) Robbery: (8.09%) Aggravated Assault: (-27.04%)
Property Crime: (-10.48%) Burglary: (8.29%) Larceny: (-7.17%) Vehicle Theft: (-26.9%)

Stockton
Violent Crime: (2.51%) Robbery: (-3.53%) Aggravated Assault: (6.53%)
Property Crime: (-3.87%) Burglary: (7.38%) Larceny: (-5.78%) Vehicle Theft: (-11.97%)

I think that the facts speak for themselves (prima facie to all you law nerds!)…Next time someone tries to play the ‘dispensaries cause crime’ card on you, tell them that they are misinformed and buying into conservative propaganda. You will have more than enough quotes and statistics to back up your claim, while the brainwashed fascist you are talking to will have nothing more to say, except ‘I heard it somewhere, from someone…’

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Paul Hansbuey

    FYI-Those statistics about crime in CA came from the FBI.

  • Dirty Dave

    paul – do you mean that the statistics are false? i think when the fbi, dea, or other pigs provide statistics that make the pigs look bad, they must be true. otherwise why would they release them?

  • http://highcountrycaregiver.com/wordpress High Country Caregiver

    We have a survey up on our website about medical marijuana where you can also see the results here:

    http://highcountrycaregiver.com/wordpress/2010/05/medical-marijuana-survey-results/

    The info is being watched by the governor as he contemplates the bill, so please take just 1 minute to do the survey about current regulations and legalization.

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