Abstract: Many North American jurisdictions have legalized the operation of recreational marijuana dispensaries. A common concern is that dispensaries may contribute to local crime. Identifying the effect of dispensaries on crime is confounded by the spatial endogeneity of dispensary locations. Washington State allocated dispensary licenses through a lottery, providing a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of dispensaries on neighborhood-level crime. Combining lottery data with detailed geocoded crime data, we estimate that the presence of a dispensary has no significant impact on local crime in the average neighborhood. We estimate a small rise in property crime in low-income neighborhoods specifically.
Dong, X., Tyndall, J. The impact of recreational marijuana dispensaries on crime: evidence from a lottery experiment. Ann Reg Sci (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00168-023-01246-x