In a recent Denver police analysis completed late 2010 of the areas around marijuana dispensaries showed that the number of crimes in those neighborhoods dropped in the first nine months of 2010 compared with the same time period in 2009. Similarly, a Denver Post analysis of crimes committed in the first 11 months of 2010 found that some Denver neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of dispensaries per capita saw bigger decreases in crime than areas with no dispensaries.
Even with this statistical data backing up claims that medical marijuana is not creating more crime, police are still not convinced. “Across the state, we’re seeing an increase in crime related to dispensaries,” says Ernie Martinez, a Denver police detective who is president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. Although the studies around medical marijuana dispensaries are not attempting to make claims that their presence is making neighborhoods safer, the decrease in crimes is difficult to attribute to any underlying factors.
In an attempt to rationalize with the police detective who may have access to more real life experiences than empirical data, there have been some documented crimes involving medical marijuana. Most notably, two robbers locked themselves in a dispensary while attempting to raid its contents. Other similar robberies have taken place across the state, as have beatings, shootings, and suspected murders. “[Marijuana dispensaries] are not taking away the underground empire of criminality,” Detective Martinez said of medical marijuana’s legitimization.
In another account solidifying the claim that there is not enough evidence to prove dispensaries can be associated with crime, a police representative explains the rational. Sgt. Steve Noblitt, a Colorado Springs police spokesman, said comparing pre- and post-dispensary crime is complicated. Given the youth most of the dispensaries are accustomed, it is difficult to compare previous crime rates to current in an effort to find some sort of accurate correlation. “We haven’t done an analysis because we don’t know what to compare it to.” This testimonial best sums up the claims on both sides of the argument that any suggestion as to whether or not these dispensaries are creating crime is evident. Therefore this evidence or lack thereof suggests that further studies must be conducted and these dispensaries are to continue to be legal parts of communities until proven to be crime contributors.