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Study: Crime went up after pot clinics closed

September 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A study by the RAND Corp. showed that the crime rate went up when medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles were shut down.

Harry Laverde, owner of a discount furniture store in North Hollywood, admitted that he was concerned that medical marijuana dispensary was moving in right next door.

"We thought we were going to have people waiting outside, laying down, sleeping outside, and nothing like that happened," he said.

Two years later, Laverde says he is glad the dispensary is next door, saying the clinic is the best neighbor they could have.

Laverde's experience was reinforced by the controversial new study.

"We feel pretty convinced that at a minimum, we're not finding evidence for the crime-magnet hypothesis," said Mireille Jacobson, a RAND Corp. researcher.

Jacobson coauthored the study that analyzed crime reports around dispensaries. The research shows that crime increased about 60 percent within the three blocks of a closed dispensary, compared to the neighborhoods where they stayed open.

"There may be select dispensaries that cause problems with crime in particular, but on average, we don't see any good evidence for that in this window of our study," Jacobson said.

The study reviewed crime reports for the 10 days before and after 430 dispensaries were closed last year. That's only one of the reasons the city attorney's office called the study "deeply flawed."

In a statement, Carmen Trutanich said, "The study is the polar opposite of a scientific and measured response to verified data. It relies exclusively upon faulty assumptions, conjecture, irrelevant data, untested measurements and incomplete results."

Councilman Ed Reyes said the results are an "eye-opener" and urged more examination.

"I think the study needs to continue because it's a snapshot," Reyes said. "It verifies how complex this issue is."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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