Societal Impacts of Cannabis Dispensaries/Retailers


Retail cannabis facilities are not positively associated with increased criminality

  • “This paper studies the effects of marijuana legalization on neighborhood crime and documents the patterns in retail dispensary locations over time using detailed micro-level data from Denver, Colorado. … The results imply that an additional dispensary in a neighborhood leads to a reduction of 17 crimes per month per 10,000 residents, which corresponds to roughly a 19 percent decline relative to the average crime rate over the sample period. … Overall, our results suggest that dispensaries cause an overall reduction in crime in neighborhoods, with no evidence of spillovers to surrounding neighborhoods. … Our results are consistent with theories that predict that marijuana legalization will displace illicit criminal organizations and decrease crime through changes in security behaviors or substitution toward more harmful substances. … Lastly, there is no evidence that increased marijuana use itself results in additional crime.”
  • “The objective of this study is to investigate whether a particular element of MMLs, namely allowance for dispensaries, affects local crime and other indicators of marijuana misuse. We find no evidence that ordinances allowing for marijuana dispensaries lead to an increase in crime. In fact, we see some evidence of a reduction in property crime. … Our study appears to reinforce the conclusions from other studies that fail to find an increase in the type of crime predicted by law enforcement. We find no effects on burglary, robberies, or assaults, which are the types of crimes one would expect if dispensaries were prime targets as a result of their holding large amounts of cash. … Our findings indicate that policymakers should be careful in how they regulate the presence of dispensaries, while not jumping to the conclusion that dispensaries are clearly crime generating hot-spots. … Our findings suggest that it is possible to regulate these markets and find a common ground between safety and access to medical marijuana.”

By contrast, dispensary closures are associated with increases in crime

  • “The results presented above show that temporary dispensary closures increase crime in the short-run. … Analyzing medical marijuana dispensary closures in the City of Los Angeles, we find no support for the idea that closing dispensaries reduces crime. Rather, temporary closures deter some types of Part I crime. … Our findings have direct policy implications for regulating marijuana sales in the U.S. They imply that dispensary closures, and potentially the closure of other types of retails establishments, exert a significant negative externality in terms of neighborhood criminality. A quick back of the envelope cost calculation using the change in larceny theft at 1/3 of a mile and crime costs … suggests that an open dispensary provides over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented.”

Retail cannabis facilities are associated with rising housing values

  • “This study finds a positive relationship between the decision to allow cannabis-related businesses and home prices. For example, we find that the average home sale price increased by 1.6% in municipalities that allowed cannabis-related businesses compared to municipalities that did not allow these businesses, which is equivalent to a $6,366 increase for the average property in our data. … In terms of policy recommendations, our results suggest state and local policymakers can be cautiously optimistic about the short-run impacts of allowing cannabis-related businesses in their jurisdictions.”
  • “To learn how marijuana legalization may impact real estate, we used publicly available data from Zillow and the U.S. Census, among other sources, to explore the relationships between home values, marijuana legalization, dispensaries, and tax revenue. We used multiple regression analyses to model current trends and predict future patterns. … Between April 2017 and April 2021, property values rose $17,113 more in states where recreational marijuana is legal, compared to states where marijuana is illegal or limited to medicinal use. … We found that cities with more dispensaries are positively correlated with higher home values, suggesting legalization boosts jobs and economic growth. … With each new dispensary a city adds, property values increase by $519. … As more states legalize marijuana, there is strong evidence that legalization drives higher property values — particularly in areas that allow recreational marijuana and welcome retail dispensaries. … These investments can improve quality of life in communities across the nation while attracting tourism and new residents who drive real estate demand.”
  • “We evaluate the effect of medical and recreational dispensary openings on housing prices in Denver, Colorado. Using an event study approach, we find that the introduction of a new dispensary within a half‐mile radius of a new home increases home prices by approximately 7.7 percent on average. The effect diminishes for homes further from new dispensaries but is consistent over time. Our results provide important and timely empirical evidence on the socioeconomic impacts of marijuana legalization.”
  • “In this paper we contribute to the debate on the impacts of recreational marijuana legalization on local communities by examining the effects of retail marijuana stores on nearby house prices in Denver, Colorado. … Using a difference-in-differences model, we compare houses that are in close proximity to a retail conversion to those that are slightly farther away from a retail conversion before and after the legalization of recreational sales. We find that after the law went into effect at the end of 2013, 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 (between 0.1 miles and 0.25 miles) in 2014 compared to the previous year.”
  • “Does legalizing retail marijuana generate more benefits than costs? This paper addresses this question by measuring the benefits and costs that are capitalized into housing values. We exploit the time-series and cross-sectional variations in the adoption of Colorado’s municipality retail marijuana laws (RMLs) and examine the effect on housing values with a difference-in-differences strategy. Our estimates show that the legalization leads to an average 6 percent increase in housing values, indicating that the capitalized benefits outweigh the costs. … In conclusion, this paper provides convincing causal evidence that legalizing retail marijuana generates net benefits, as measured through the housing market.”

Dispensary clientele tend to be older, value access to specific strains of cannabis, and tend to require greater quantities of cannabis to treat their therapeutic condition

  • “Regarding age, respondents who used dispensaries were older than those not using dispensaries, perhaps reflecting that services that these dispensaries provide, such as storefront access and personalized service, may be particularly appealing to older adults. … A larger proportion of dispensary clients considered access to their preferred strain to be important than those not using dispensaries. … With regard to cannabis use, dispensary users were more likely to use larger amounts of cannabis. … [D]ispensaries were widely used and well rated by respondents. Given this high level of endorsement by patients, future regulations should consider including storefront dispensaries as an authorized source of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.”

The prevalence of cannabis dispensaries is not positively associated with increased teen use

  • “We aimed to examine the availability of medical marijuana dispensaries, price of medical marijuana products, and variety of medical marijuana products in school neighborhoods and their associations with adolescents’ use of marijuana and susceptibility to use marijuana in the future. … The distance from school to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary was not associated with adolescents’ use of marijuana in the past month or susceptibility to use marijuana in the future, nor was the weighted count of medical marijuana dispensaries within the 3-mi band of school. Neither the product price nor the product variety in the dispensary nearest to school was associated with marijuana use or susceptibility to use. The results were robust to different specifications of medical marijuana measures. … There was no evidence supporting the associations of medical marijuana availability, price, or product variety around school with adolescents’ marijuana use and susceptibility to use.”
  • “[T]he presence of recreational marijuana retail store(s) was not associated with perceived easy access to marijuana, controlling for perceived ease of access before the retail sales. There was no significant change in past 30-day marijuana use in bivariate analysis or in a multivariate model including presence of a recreational marijuana store.”
  • “[W]e did not find empirical evidence showing the availability of medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with [the] current use of marijuana among adolescents. … It is also suggestive that the dispensaries may not have spillover effects on neighborhood social norms or marijuana availability overall.”

Cannabis retailers are not selling to minors and their products are not being diverted to the underage market

Retail cannabis access is associated with reduced opioid consumption by the general public

  • “We studied county level associations between cannabis storefront dispensaries and opioid related mortality rates in the US between 2014 and 2018. Our study found that increased medical and recreational storefront dispensary counts are associated with reduced opioid related mortality rates during the study period. These associations appear particularly strong for deaths related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Given the alarming rise in the fentanyl based market in the US, and the increase in deaths involving fentanyl and its analogs in recent years, the question of how legal cannabis availability relates to opioid related deaths is particularly pressing. Overall, our study contributes to understanding the supply side of related drug markets and how it shapes opioid use and misuse.”
  • “In this research, we have examined the effect of MML laws and the presence of active legal dispensaries on CDC age-adjusted opioid overdose death rates over the years 1999-2015. Our results suggest that states with active legal dispensaries see a drop in opioid death rates over time. … Overall, this research provides evidence that states with MMLs may see a decline in opioid overdose death rates if they enact legal dispensaries.”
  • “[S]tates providing legal access to marijuana through dispensaries reduce deaths due to opioid overdoses. … We provide complementary evidence that dispensary provisions lower treatment admissions for addiction to pain medications. … In short, our findings that legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms suggests that some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether. … At a minimum, however, our results suggest a potential overlooked positive effect of medical marijuana laws that support meaningful retail sales.”
  • “This paper uses a unique marijuana dispensary dataset to exploit within- and across-state variation in dispensary openings to estimate the effect increased access to marijuana has on narcotic-related admissions to treatment facilities and drug-induced mortalities. [It] finds that core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) with dispensary openings experience a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment admissions over the first two years of dispensary operations … [and] provides suggestive evidence that dispensary operations negatively affect drug-induced mortality rates.”
  • “Using both standard differences-in-differences models as well as synthetic control models, we find that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”