Marijuana dispensaries and public safety
Comic: Pardon my Planet by Vic Lee, 9/8/2011.
I am libertarian about drug policy. I'd rather that "illegal" drugs be legalized, and money spent on interdiction should instead be spent on rehab and poverty reduction, even though at the same time I don't believe in using drugs or hanging with people who do.
Still, I found it very interesting that a study by the RAND Institute found that in areas where there are marijuana dispensaries in the city there is less crime (California was the first state to pass a "medical marijuana" legalization initiative). See "Rand study finds less crime near pot dispensaries: Crimes such as assaults and thefts rose in areas of L.A. where the shops were forced to close last summer, researchers say. The city attorney's office and a sheriff's spokesman dispute the report's conclusions" and "Putting pot in its place" from the Los Angeles Times).
It's not unlike the inadvertent research in Colorado that found that deaths from smoking related diseases declined with laws requiring no smoking policies in public accommodations such as restaurants, and increased when the laws were repealed.
Counter this too with the findings that the concentration of alcohol sales establishments (liquor, beer, wine) is associated with increases in crime and disorder. (e.g., Waller, L.A., Zhu, L., Gotway, C.A., Gorman, D.M. & Gruenewald, P.G. (in press). Quantifying geographic variations in associations between alcohol distribution and violence: a comparison of geographically weighted regression and spatially varying coefficient models. Stochastic Research and Risk Assessment).
Still, there would have to be laws against driving "under the influence," as well as strong management and security for the "stores," and robust regulatory processes. Hey, I am sure that if legal, CVS, Walgreens, and other pharmacy chains would be happy to sell the goods...