“Jurisdictions that sanction medical or, more recently, recreational marijuana use often allow retail sales at dispensaries. Dispensaries are controversial as many believe they contribute to local crime. To assess this claim, we analyze the short-term mass closing of hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.
Contrary to popular wisdom, we find an immediate increase in crime around dispensaries ordered to close relative to those allowed to remain open.
The increase is specific to the type of crime most plausibly deterred by bystanders, and is correlated with neighborhood walkability. We find a similar pattern of results for temporary restaurant closures due to health code violations. A likely common mechanism is that “eyes upon the street” deter some types of crime.”