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MCC Illinois Cannabis Dispensary

How Cannabis Dispensaries Improve Our Neighborhoods

Multiple studies indicate that the addition of a medical cannabis dispensary (MMDs) to a neighborhood makes it safer, reduces the incidence of opioid-related treatment placements and increases the values of surrounding properties.

I live in W Rogers Park, on the far north side of Chicago. In 2015, a well-known cannabis advocate and entrepeneur applied for zoning for a dispensary to be built on Western Avenue opposite Warren Park, a large Chicago Park District park. Our alderman was opposed to it from the beginning. More than half of her constituents approved of the dispensary location, but she would not listen to us. Her argument was that medical cannabis patients would be trying to sell their medicine to 8 year olds in Warren Park. She falsely claimed that crime would soar due to the fact that it is a cash business. Patients were depicted as “undesirables” and it divided our community. I attended the zoning hearing at City Hall as a supporter. It was truly astonishing that the alderman presented opposition witnesses including an 8 year old child. This is exactly what he said. “I do not want there to be a dispensary across from the park because I would be afraid someone would try and sell me drugs. I would be too scared to say no.” Sadly, the zoning was denied and the dispensary was never built. It was a beautiful building and would have improved the neighborhood on many levels.

In 2018, things have changed for the better. There are hundreds of dispensaries across the country. Crime is not rampant. Patients are not selling their medicine to minors. Thousands of people have become medical cannabis patients….and it has improved the quality of their lives. For many who have been able to wean themselves off of dangerous, addictive prescription medications, medical cannabis has saved their lives.

Here are 3 ways that cannabis dispensaries have improved our communities:

#1 Cannabis Dispensaries Aid in Reducing Crime

According to a recent study published in the July, 2017 issue of the Journal of Urban Economics, the presence of MMDs reduces crime in their immediate area. Researchers at USC Marshall School of Business and The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine studied the effects that MMDs and restaurants have on the crime levels in neighborhoods. They concluded that they both contribute to the “walkability score” of a given area. With more people walking around neighborhoods, there were more “eyes on the street.” More bystanders translates to a deterrent to property crime, and theft from vehicles. The argument that MMDs are “crime magnets” is not only spurious but continues to fuel the “Reefer Madness Stigma” that still exists in this country.

In addition, here are other ways that medical cannabis dispensaries help in the reduction of crime:

  1. Dispensaries are very well-lit
  2. Dispensaries in regulated states such as Illinois are required to have an extensive surveillance system
  3. Dispensaries often have on-site security guards
  4. Dispensary staff are trained to report any suspicious activity

#2 Cannabis Dispensaries Help Reduce Opioid-Related Treatment Admissions

The opioid crisis is killing over 115 Americans every single day. Medical cannabis has been proven to help wean thousands of people off of additive, life-threatening medications. Despite the fact that the mainstream media is giving very little coverage to medical cannabis as a safe treatment option, studies support this assertion.

A study by a  University of Georgia economics professor investigated The Effect of MMDs on Adverse Opioid Outcomes. He concluded that the existence of MMDs reduces the admissions of those seeking opioid-related treatments and overall drug deaths. There is “a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment over the first two-years of dispensary operations.”

Given the choice AND where it is readily available, many people will choose to patronize a medical cannabis dispensary over conventional opioid-related treatment centers. That is a very good thing for the residents of every neighborhood.

#3 Cannabis Dispensaries Increase Residential Property Values

Contrary to the common belief that a MMD will bring down the surrounding property values, a study demonstrates the opposite to be true. Researchers at the University of Georgia and California State University published a study conducted on property values in Colorado; The External Effects of Retail Marijuana Establishments on House Prices.

The results showed that residential properties located near dispensaries tend to have higher property values than those located further away. In fact, single family residences close to dispensaries were valued at an increase of 84% in relation to houses located further away. Even those who are not customers of the legal cannabis industry benefit from the location of dispensaries!

The presence of dispensaries help increase surrounding property values by doing the following:

  • Many vacant commercial properties are renovated
  • New businesses typically relocate near dispensaries
  • Dispensary staff are very community minded and help clean up their neigborhoods
  • There is a reduction of crime

Cannabis dispensaries are changing our communities for the better; one dispensary at a time. Feel free to leave a comment on how your local medical cannabis dispensary has improved the neighborhood for the better.

Source:, 3 Ways Cannabis Dispensaries Are Making Neighborhoods Better, Johnny Green, January 11, 2018

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