New study compares them to ‘drugstores and coffee houses’
Article written by Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, CU Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
DENVER (February 14, 2014) – A study published Wednesday in the journal Urban Geography found that medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver were generally not considered locally undesirable land uses and that they had little impact on the urban landscape.
The study by Lyndsay N. Boggess and Carl Root of the University of South Florida, Deanna M. Perez of Kansas State University, and Paul B. Stretesky and Kathryn Cope of the CU Denver School of Public Affairs studied the demographics of where 275 medical marijuana centers were located and the impacts they had on the neighborhoods. Its title is “Do medical marijuana centers behave like locally undesirable land uses? Implications for the geography of health and environmental justice.”
The authors noted that, “While public officials and especially law enforcement clearly warn residents about the negative effects of these centers on the communities in which they are situated, there is little evidence that residents are listening…”
Stretesky said the researchers were surprised by the results.
“Given the history of marijuana in the United States, my colleagues and I were convinced that marijuana centers were acting as locally undesirable land uses and that these would be situated in neighborhoods where people could not stop them. That these centers would change the neighborhood landscape and create problems,” he said.
“The statistical findings were shocking. We argued a bit among ourselves and divided the data up every way we could think of to find evidence of inequality where we may have missed it. We replicated the analysis independently. Nothing. It simply looks like these are not as undesirable as they are made out to be in the media and by law enforcement.”
The study did find that the dispensaries are more likely to be located in “areas that have higher crime rates,” but noted that it could be because “crime tends to follow retail concentrations” and the dispensaries usually are located in areas zoned for retail.
The authors concluded that medical marijuana centers “have relatively few negative health effects on minorities and the poor as a result of their location in Denver.”
The study is the first to explore the relationships between race, ethnicity and poverty and the location of medical marijuana centers.
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