Cannabis dispensaries have the ability to transform neighborhoods.
If you live near a dispensary, chances are you know exactly what I mean.
A nice, clean dispensary can not only do wonders for the aesthetics of a neighborhood but they also help patients and consumers in the surrounding area.
Dispensaries are now considered to be legitimate entities not only in the eyes of state law but also in the eyes of a lot of the American public.
However, sadly, there is still some debate occurring as to if dispensaries should be allowed in states that are grappling with creating regulatory systems to govern dispensaries.
Opponents are adamant that dispensaries are bad for neighborhoods, but is that true?
Hundreds of municipalities across the U.S. have enacted bans and moratoriums to prevent dispensaries from opening.
Are these concerns justified?
Here’s some of the current data on how dispensaries are impacting neighborhoods:
#1) Cannabis dispensaries help reduce crime
One talking point that cannabis opponents repeat over and over during campaigns and rule-making processes is that cannabis dispensaries are magnets for crime.
Opponents act like the second a dispensary opens up, robberies will start occurring and all types of seedy people will be loitering around the neighborhood looking for stuff to steal in order to fund 'their fix.'
Mainstream media coverage of the statistically rare instances when dispensaries are robbed has historically contributed to the perpetuation of the reefer madness talking points that cannabis opponents make regarding dispensaries and crime.
But a study from 2017 found that cannabis dispensaries had a positive effect on crime in the neighborhoods in which they are located, and have lowered crime, for the same reason that restaurants reduce crime in the neighborhoods in which they are located.
Researchers from the study reported:
"Our results demonstrate that the dispensaries were not the crime magnets that they were often described as, but instead reduced crime in their immediate vicinity."
Dispensaries help reduce crime in the following ways:
- Dispensaries are required to have security surveillance systems to be in compliance in the states that have regulated dispensaries
- Dispensary properties are well-lit
- Dispensaries often have on-site security guards inside and outside of the dispensary
- Dispensary staff are very good at reporting suspicious activity
#2) Cannabis dispensaries increase residential property values
The cannabis industry has had a positive economic impact in states that have legalized taxed and regulated cannabis sales.
The direct economic impact is clear for many people to see. Regulated cannabis sales are expected to generate 655 million dollars in tax revenue for states in 2017.
But one ancillary benefit to the cannabis industry, specifically involving medical cannabis dispensaries, is that residential properties located near dispensaries tend to be worth more than houses located further away.
Per a recent study that looked at dispensaries (referred to as retail conversions in the study) and housing, "single family residences close to a retail conversion (within 0.1 miles) increased in value by approximately 8.4% relative to houses that are located slightly farther from a conversion..."
A rise of 8.4% in the value of a home is extremely significant.
Even people that don't frequent the dispensary benefit from it being located near their house according to the math, which is something that can't be pointed out enough.
Dispensaries increase property values in the surrounding area by:
- Renovating vacant commercial properties
- Encouraging other types of businesses to relocate near the dispensary
- Dispensary staff often volunteer in the local community to clean up the neighborhood
- Reducing crime in the neighborhood in which they are located
#3) Dispensaries reduce opioid-related treatment admissions
It is no secret that we are in the midst of a national opioid epidemic.
The United States only makes up roughly 5% of the world's population but uses 80% of the world's opioids.
The situation is dire, and the individual stories are heartbreaking. Many people have been suggesting that increasing access to cannabis would help matters, but what does the data say?
A study released in the fall of 2017 looked at opioid-related treatment admissions in neighborhoods that had no dispensaries and compared the data to neighborhoods that recently had a dispensary open up.
According to the study, the neighborhoods with dispensaries experienced "a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment over the first two-years of dispensary operations."
Cannabis dispensaries can literally help save lives.
People should not have to use harmful, addictive opioids if they don't want to.
As the data shows, many people will make the safer choice if given the legal option to do so in the area in which they live, which is a good thing for any neighborhood in the U.S.
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