Pot and Crime

A huge marijuana dispensary is going in across the street. I can see it from my office window.  I dread its opening for the traffic I imagine it will bring.

Some anti pot politicians and activists have claimed that crime will increase where marijuana is legalized.  This view has been discredited (at least by Snopes) and there are data suggesting that violent crime along the U.S. border with Mexico has in fact decreased with legalization.  As the criminal middlemen and cartels are pushed aside and legitimate businesses get involved, it makes sense that the nature of crime around the product is likely to change.

As the way marijuana is used in our society shifts significantly, it is hard to imagine that there won’t be consequences, at the very least also an up tick in traffic violations for folks driving high.

Besides, pot is a high value product and retailers who sell it inventory large quantities of this fairly portable commodity.  Often it is an all cash business.  These attributes make such shops a criminal target.  It is expected that robberies and theft at dispensaries will increase as the locations increase.  Industry advocates point out that on the positive side, jobs for security officers specifically at marijuana shops are on the rise and better paid than are security posts at other kinds of establishments.  Is this true?

Just as jewelry stores that carry high value easily portable merchandise are very likely to hire physical security, one would imagine the same would be true of pot shops.

In any event, with the California law in effect as of this January allowing the sale not just of medical marijuana but for recreational use, the number of such stores has skyrocketed.  Currently, there are 1,300 stores statewide.  It is estimated that between now and 2020 the pot business will grow by $7 billion in California alone.

It is almost moot whether crime around these establishments, either against business owners or their customers doesn’t necessarily correlate to increased use of private security.  Because if public perception is that these businesses pose a danger to their local communities and residents, then owners are obliged if only for the sake of public relations to make sure physical security is in place.

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