The RAND Corporation today retracted the study it had released last month questioning the long-held law enforcement assertion that medical marijuana dispensaries contribute to neighborhood crime.
The study of 600 marijuana dispensaries – some of which shut down, some of which stayed open – over a three-week period in 2010 had indicated crime actually rises in surrounding neighborhoods when dispensaries close. “Overall crime increased almost 60 percent in the blocks surrounding closed clinics in the ten days following their closing,” the report had said.
It was immediately touted by medical marijuana advocates from coast to coast as evidence that police complaints of criminal activity at or near dispensaries were bogus. Law enforcement replied the study was too small a sample over too short a time.
RAND announced Monday that questions raised after the study’s publication prompted the prominent think tank “to undertake an unusual post-publication internal review of the study,” its press release said. “That review determined the crime data used in the analysis are insufficient to answer the questions targeted by the study.”
In fact, RAND said, the big problem with the study was that the data described as covering the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas did not include crime data reported by the Los Angeles Police Department. RAND researchers will conduct a new analysis after gathering adequate crime data, a process that could take many more weeks.
“This was a rare failure of our peer review system,” said Debra Knopman, vice president of the RAND Infrastructure, Safety and Environment division. “We take our commitment to quality and objectivity seriously so we have retracted the study in order to correct it.”
We’ll have a full story on this later today: I’ll be talking to the RAND folks in about an hour, and have reached out to law enforcement and medical-marijuana advocates for comment.
UPDATE @ 3:10 P.M.: Click here to read the full story.