A new study published in The Journal of Regional Science and Urban Economics shows a substantial reduction in crime rates near cannabis dispensaries in Colorado. The study uses data collected in Denver, Colorado between 2013 and 2016 and the results mirror those of other, similar studies that have been conducted in the past.
“The results imply that an additional dispensary in a neighborhood leads to a reduction of 17 crimes per month per 10,000 residents, which corresponds to roughly a 19 percent decline relative to the average crime rate over the sample period.” — Excerpt from the study’s abstract
The researchers point out the reduction in crime is highly localized and goes counter to the overall crime rate in Denver, which increased by 1.7% between 2013 and 2014. They found the majority of the decrease in crime was for mostly nonviolent offenses, with a 2.3% decrease in drug offense per ten thousand residents.
“Our results are consistent with theories that predict that marijuana legalization will displace illicit criminal organizations and decrease crime through changes in security behaviors or substitution toward more harmful substances,” the study authors wrote.
Over the years since adult-use cannabis was first legalized in Colorado and then Washington, multiple studies have suggested that legalization — and the subsequent proliferation of legal cannabis shops — does not cause an overall uptick in crime rates, which is a prohibitionist claim often made by those who oppose legalization.