Rand Corp. ‘Reviewing’ Controversial Crime Report Amid Pressure From L.A. Officials

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The nonprofit organization behind a controversial study that found crime in some Los Angeles neighborhoods actually increased when pot dispensaries closed has yanked the report from its website amid a firestorm of criticism from city attorneys and skepticism among law enforcement officials.

Rand Corp., based in Santa Monica, Calif., said it will take another look at the report and the methodology behind it, according to the Los Angele Times.

The report found that assaults and break-ins rose by nearly 60 percent in areas surrounding dispensaries that were forced to close during a widespread crackdown in L.A. last year – dispelling the widely held notion that medical marijuana centers create more crime. In fact, the study seems to suggest that MMCs actually help lower crime, in part because they employ numerous security measures, increase overall foot traffic and offer people a legal way to buy and sell marijuana. Rand examined crime statistics 10 days before and 10 days after the dispensaries closed.

Hoping to stop the proliferation of pot dispensaries in recent years – many that are using questionable business practices – Los Angeles forced hundreds of MMCs to close their doors in the summer of 2010. The city attorney justified the move by arguing that dispensaries increase crime.

A spokesman for Rand told Toke of the Town that the L.A. attorney’s office (not surprisingly) has been the most vocal in criticizing the study, indicating that the city pressured the organization into conducting the review. Criticisms of the study focused on the its large margin of error – more than 100 percent – the fact that it only examined crime statistics for a total of 20 days and the lack of verification that the dispensaries actually closed down.

Although Rand has taken the report down from its website, you can read it here, courtesy of Americans for Safe Access.

It’s highly unusual for a nonprofit research institution to bow to outside pressures questioning its methodologies. This incident underscores how sensitive and controversial medical marijuana has become, especially in the past few months as the federal government tries to rein in the industry.