The MMD Study at UCLA is designed to understand how medical marijuana dispensaries may change the overall neighborhood ecology. MMDs have engendered a great deal of controversy in California, including claims that the proliferation of these dispensaries in many of these counties has increased crime and related problems. Advocates for the dispensaries feel they serve an important function in the community by providing relief to chronically ill patients for a variety of medical and health conditions.
Despite these perceptions, no empirical studies have been conducted that examined how the opening and closing of these dispensaries change the landscape of the neighborhoods in which they are located. Without empirical evidence supporting claims on either side, local jurisdictions are struggling with developing policies to regulate dispensaries. By examining the relationship of the density of medical marijuana dispensaries (i.e., number of dispensaries per area) to crime, we can provide crucial information on how these dispensaries change the areas where they are located and what can be done to prevent problems from occurring. Our goal is to better understand whether or not the increasing numbers of dispensaries in California are related to changes in local crime and in medical marijuana abuse or dependence. We are also interested in studying how the changing number of these dispensaries, the locations where they are located, and the patient populations served are related to what products are sold and for how much. The study is currently in the data collection phase. This involves conducting interviews with dispensaries about the products they sell and the prices for those products. We also collect information about the locations where these dispensaries are located and any security measures the dispensaries take to ensure the safety of their patients. During this phase, we are also collecting data from various organizations about local crime rates and rates of marijuana abuse or dependence. This study was launched in 2011 and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. We are funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse (Grant Number R01-DA032715). Additional information can be found on the other pages of this website.
Research Brief 2015-01 - Distirbution of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries from 2007 to 2014, Los Angeles, CA (March, 2015)