The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries, calling them magnets for crime and citing federal laws prohibiting the drug.
Critics say many dispensaries are becoming magnets for crime; they point to some recent burglaries and shootings either at pot shops or near then [sic]
San Diego police chief William Lansdowne, who has generally supported medical marijuana, said that the dispensaries had become “magnets for crime” such as burglaries and robberies.
Knabe said he feared that, unregulated, dispensaries could become magnets for crime and illegal drug dealing and that the region could “become inundated’ with marijuana dispensaries like West Hollywood has.
Previous ordinances have failed to stop the proliferation of dispensaries – now estimated at 800 or more. Some are located near schools and residential neighborhoods and have become magnets for crime.
Four years ago, when the Los Angeles City Council started to wrestle with how to control medical marijuana, there were just four known storefront dispensaries, one each in Hancock Park, Van Nuys, Rancho Park and Cheviot Hills.
Now, police say there are as many as 600. There may be more. No one really knows.
When the state passed a law allowing for medical-marijuana cooperatives in 2004, Los Angeles never set forth guidelines for how they should operate. That led to the rampant growth of dispensaries: The number in the city is estimated at 1,000, making medical marijuana one of the city’s fastest-growing industries.
So with 1,000 of these “magnets for crime” infesting the city of Los Angeles, what has the result been?
Authorities say the 2009 crime rate in Los Angeles was the lowest in 50 years, with drops reported in everything from homicides to car thefts.
Police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday the number of homicides dropped more than 18 percent last year compared with 2008. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says the 314 reported homicides were the fewest since 1967.
Overall, there was a 10.8 percent drop in violent crimes and an 8 percent dip in property crimes even though the city’s economy sagged and unemployment rose.
Rapes were down about 8 percent and auto thefts plunged nearly 20 percent.
I’m not claiming that the medical marijuana dispensaries are the main cause for the crime drop. It’s certainly possible it played some role, but as the linked article later mentions, crime rate decreases were seen across the nation. But what’s perfectly clear is that the 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries that set up shop within the city limits in only a few short years didn’t become “magnets for crime”. If they did, there’s no way we’d be seeing declines this remarkable.
Earlier today, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee made history today by approving Tom Ammiano’s marijuana legalization bill. It was the first time that a bill to re-legalize it has moved forward. Tomorrow, it’s Washington’s turn. I think it was fitting that it was their Public Safety Committee that voted for it. The myth that legalized marijuana distribution will lead to increases in crime is way past its expiration date. In fact, legalizing and regulating marijuana is widely expected to do the opposite. Hopefully, we’ll have a genuine debate tomorrow that spares us from the sight of our state representatives warning us that the proposed state liquor and marijuana stores will become “magnets for crime”.