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RAND Pulls LA Marijuana Dispensary Crime Study, Pending Review

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #704)
Politics & Advocacy

In the face of withering criticism from local law enforcement officials, the RAND Corporation has removed from its web site, at least temporarily pending review, a September study that found that crime increased when medical marijuana dispensaries closed down. That study concluded that there is "no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise."

The study was subject to immediate attack from local officials, particularly from avowed medical marijuana foe LA County District Attorney Carmen Trutanich and from the LA city attorney's office. Trutanich called the study's results "highly suspect and unreliable" and claimed they were based on "faulty assumptions, conjecture, conjecture, irrelevant data, untested measurements and incomplete results."

Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher and Assistant City Attorney Asha Greenberg, whose office argued in court that dispensaries bred crime when successfully seeking to limit their numbers, added to the pressure on RAND. "Until you publicly retract your work, we expect the RAND publication to be referenced nationwide, at incalculable avoidable harm to public health and safety," they hyperbolically wrote.

The RAND study examined crime reports for 10 days before and 10 days after the city ordered more than 70% of the city's 638 dispensaries to close in June 2010. The researchers analyzed crime reports in neighborhoods where dispensaries had closed and compared them to neighborhoods where dispensaries stayed open.

RAND bent to the pressure this week. "We took a fresh look at the study based in part upon questions raised by some folks following publication, RAND spokesman Warren Robak told Toke of the Town. "The LA City Attorney's Office has been the organization most vocal in its criticism of the study."

The study has been taken down for review, but not retracted, Robak clarified. "I don't have an estimate of when the review will be complete and the study will reappear," he said.

Americans for Safe Access, the nation's largest medical marijuana advocacy group, decried the intrusion of politics into the realm of science and urged RAND to stand its ground. "When will objective science on medical marijuana be honestly and thoroughly considered without the intrusion and constraints of politics?" the group asked. "As a decades-old institution, RAND should stand by its research and not buckle to political pressure."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anon (not verified)

"The LA City Attorney’s Office has been the organization most vocal in its criticism of the study."


This says it all.  These people are foaming at the mouth to bring down medical marijuana.  Why is this blatant, in your face corruption not exposed?  This whole Obama bust down seems like it goes against basic reason  -- without debates or studies, and they are ramming this down the people after they were given a green light?  This seems like a totally transparent abuse of government power?  And now they are questioning RAND and want them to change the figures?

These people are going to be playing a part in further destroying their own economy by closing down a billion dollar industry.  Have these people thought this through?  Once these landlords throw out all these businesses, who are they going to get to replace them?  Does CA suddenly have a new retail product or service that will fill the economic vacuum created by shutting down 100% of the dispensaries?  Are these people nuts?  Medical marijuana has been a boom for LA.  Not only are the dispensaries, landlords, banks, credit card companies benefited from medical marijuana, but so has LA's general economy.  A strip mall with new vacancies, and continued vacancy, can hurt a neighboring fast food restaurant nearby; and this comment was not meant to be funny.  Expect other neighboring small businesses to be effected!

These LA City officials better have a good restoration plan for these properties.  Otherwise this whole thing is going to be a much BIGGER problem for LA.

Wed, 10/12/2011 - 9:41pm Permalink
Gail Lightfoot (not verified)

I wonder what threats were used to shut the results down? Or do corporations just 'know' they better not offend the 'Powers that Be', anywhere, anytime?

Sun, 10/16/2011 - 2:49pm Permalink

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