In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which made the state the first in the country to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Nonetheless, marijuana dispensaries have found themselves the target of the U.S. Justice Department as well as local ordinances in recent years, based on fears that their presence increases the potential for crime. Medical marijuana advocates, however, contend that these businesses actually help reduce the number of drug crimes and help make neighborhoods safer.
How do marijuana dispensaries prevent crime? Advocates argue that they set up shop in buildings and storefronts that would otherwise remain vacant and attract criminal activity. Since most dispensaries have security cameras, and sometimes guards, they contend that these businesses are a deterrent to crime in the neighborhood. Lastly, when medical marijuana patients have a safe, legal place to obtain cannabis, they do not have to buy it from illegal sources.