Currently, 14 states have approved medical marijuana dispensaries in their states. The most recent state is New Jersey. New Jersey’s out going governor, Jon Corzine, signed legislation granting chronically ill patients legal access to marijuana. According to the new law on the books in New Jersey, these dispensaries will provide medical marijuana to patients with diseases such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis to alleviate their pain and other symptoms. Patients need prescriptions from doctors in order to access the drug. Growing marijuana at home, remains illegal as well as driving while high is also illegal.
However, what New Jersey doesn’t know is that these dispensaries can be a breeding ground for crime. Since Denver, Colorado approved medical marijuana dispensaries, there have been 25 related robberies in just seven months. Crimes include 13-dispensary stickups and 12 other pot related robberies. The targets range from medical marijuana growing operations to home invasion robberies of medical marijuana patients. As a result, the Denver City Council and state lawmakers are considering legislation to tighten regulation of the blooming medical marijuana dispensaries whose large amounts of cash and drugs have made them magnets for violent crime.
Denver isn’t the only city facing crime with medical marijuana dispensaries, Los Angeles, California has seen an explosion of dispensaries along with violent crimes associated with the dispensaries. Organized gangs are robbing dispensaries, triggering shootouts with armed dispensary workers and even murder of an unarmed pot shop guard.
Are tighter regulations the solution to this problem or is it the presence of medical marijuana dispensaries the problem? As long as criminals are looking for pot for personal use or for sale, they will continue their crime spree.