Rand retracts controversial marijuana and crime study
October 25, 2011
The Rand Corp. on Monday retracted a controversial report on crime around Los Angeles medical marijuana clinics after discovering major flaws in the study’s methodology. [LA Times]
The Santa Monica research institution, one of the most prestigious in the nation, made the decision after realizing that they had failed to include critical data from the LAPD.
The study of crime data near dispensaries published last month led Rand researchers to suggest that the stores, which usually have guards and surveillance cameras, may help reduce crime in their neighborhoods.
Lawyers in the city attorney’s office were outraged. They have been struggling to reduce the number of pot outlets and have argued that they are a threat to public safety. Special Assistant City Atty. Jane Usher and Assistant City Atty. Asha Greenberg complained that the report had “critical flaws,” one of which was failing “to obtain or accurately report the available crime statistics.”
“This is the right outcome,” Usher said Monday. “Putting information that’s not credible in front of the public and in front of policymakers does a disservice to everyone.”
Medical marijuana advocates hoped to use the report to dispute allegations that dispensaries cause crime and had blasted Rand for buckling to political pressure when it took the report off its website two weeks ago while it reviewed the criticisms.
The Rand researchers reviewed crime reports from the 10 days before the city’s medical marijuana ordinance took effect on June 7, 2010, with the 10 days after, when at least some of the more than 400 illegal dispensaries shut down.
They found a 59% increase in crime within 0.3 of a mile of a closed dispensary compared to an open one.
“They made mistakes,” said Debra Knopman, a Rand vice president and director of the infrastructure, safety and environment division. “What we’re wrestling with is how the mistakes went undetected.”