Do Legal Cannabis Shops Lead to an Increase in Property Crimes?
Researchers from the Ohio State University have found that legal marijuana shops may be linked to higher levels of property crime in nearby areas.
Published on May 1, 2017

In order to prevent crime from taking place on the grounds of cannabis outlets, most businesses have hi-tech security systems and guards to protect their product. But researchers from Ohio State University recently conducted a three-year study in Denver that found an increase of property crimes in the areas adjacent to marijuana retail stores. 

The findings show that these neighboring areas saw 84 more property crimes compared to those not in the vicinity of a nearby cannabis shop. According to Bridget Freisthler, a social work professor at OSU and the lead author of the study, their research raises potential concerns for those who own a house or business close to a pot shop. 

These findings correlate similarly to the levels of property crime that surround bars, liquor stores, and even restaurants that serve alcohol. In fact, businesses that serve alcohol resulted in four times more violent crime than cannabis shops. Still, the lead researcher believes that cannabis legalization does have a negative aspect to counteract increased tax revenue.


"There are definitely negative public health consequences, including increased crime. There may be economic benefits in terms of more tax revenue and money spent in neighborhoods. Citizens have to decide how they want to measure the benefits and costs,” Freisthler says


Data shows that slightly more property crime took place in areas close to marijuana outlets, 1,579 crimes over 34 months. However, researchers have cautioned against the direct comparison to alcohol businesses, primarily because the data only looks at adjacent areas to alcohol stores, and doesn’t take the immediate location where the alcohol is sold/served into account.   

Prior to this research, Freisthler and colleagues conducted a similar study on marijuana outlets in Long Beach, California. They also found that property crimes didn’t increase in the immediate vicinity of cannabis shops, but did in adjacent neighborhoods. Unlike the study in Denver, however, the researchers found a slight increase in violent crime around Long Beach marijuana businesses. 

The OSU professor assumes that security guards and cameras help prevent criminal activity at these shops, but adjacent neighborhoods don’t afford the same protections. All in all, the findings aren’t exactly shocking, but they do spell potential trouble for those who own property close to a recreational dispensary. Despite this, the research also proves that living close to an alcohol outlet is equally, if not more dangerous.   

Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
Share this article with your friends!