Leafly Study Debunks Dispensary Myths Around Crime & Teen Use

Evidence-Based Studies Refute Dispensary Fears

When a state legalizes cannabis, local municipal officials are put in a tough spot. They have the power to allow or prohibit cannabis stores from opening in their jurisdiction. It’s done through property zoning.

When the issue comes up for vote, the discussion is often dominated by imagined fears. Law enforcement leaders warn about crime increases. Parents worry about their kids having easier access to cannabis. Real estate agents forecast doom for any neighborhood surrounding a cannabis store. Pew Research has found a 25 point gap between support for legalization (75%), and support for a store nearby (50%).

A review of the research finds that cannabis dispensaries improve public safety, health, and nearby property values–contrary to previous fears.

All too often, the result is a complete ban on cannabis stores–which has the unintentional effect of propping up the local illicit market. Here’s the rub: Cannabis stores actually improve public safety, health, and property values. The research proves it.

In a review of 42 key studies, Leafly’s team of data analysts, researchers, and editors found that the broad body of published research suggests crime near licensed dispensaries has generally stayed flat or decreased. Teen cannabis use in legalization states has fallen since legalization. And property values near cannabis outlets generally are not affected or even rise.

Leafly’s report examined 42 published studies on the effects of cannabis medical dispensaries and adult-use stores. (Click to download.)

Click Here to Download ‘Debunking Dispensary Myths’

That literature review, Debunking Dispensary Myths, is intended to better inform civic debate at the city, state, and national levels. Leafly is sharing the report with elected officials, legislative aides, activists, industry groups, and researchers nationwide, as well as presenting the findings at upcoming events.

Fears surrounding local cannabis stores have prompted many communities to prohibit cannabis companies in their towns, cities, and counties. Millions of adult consumers now living in legal states find it impossible to purchase legally in their own towns. Leafly found that as of May 1, 2019:

  • In California, 75% of jurisdictions have banned cannabis stores.
  • In Colorado, 65% of cities and counties have similar bans.
  • In Massachusetts, 54% of the state’s 351 municipalities have banned cannabis stores.
  • In Washington, 35% of cities and 20% of counties have banned cannabis stores.
  • In Nevada, 75% of counties and 42% of cities prohibit cannabis stores.

Clean Stores, Good Neighbors

In Colorado and Washington, where data is now available from five years of adult-use cannabis sales, many local officials have switched from hesitance to confidence in the positive benefits of well-regulated stores. Cannabis companies “are tremendous employers and socially responsible members of the communities in which they operate,” said Ron Kammerzell, former senior director of enforcement at the Colorado Dept. of Revenue.

The Lux cannabis store in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood is the cleanest, brightest property in a transitional business district. (Photo courtesy of Lux)

Dispensaries Add 6% to 8% to Home Values

Some of the data backing up that conclusion:

  • Crime rates unaffected: An overwhelming majority of studies–including one from the journal Preventive Medicine in 2018, and a Federal Reserve Bank 2017 paper–found no increase in crime related to the location of medical marijuana dispensaries or adult-use retail stores.
  • Teen use unaffected specifically, declines generally: Colorado and Oregon state health reports show teen cannabis use flat or down since licensed adult-use stores opened. In Washington, a 2018 JAMA Pediatrics study concluded use had fallen. Federally administered surveys show the 2016 teen use rate was the lowest in more than 20 years.
  • Property values increase: A 2016 study in the journal Economic Inquiry concluded allowing stores added 6% to city home prices, compared to ban towns. A 2018 study in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy found home prices went up by 7.7% within a half-mile of a new cannabis store

Debunking Dispensary Myths identifies and examines the most reliable studies on medical and adult-use cannabis stores. In the report, Leafly editors David Downs and Bruce Barcott worked with cannabis policy expert Dominic Corva, co-director of the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HIIMR) at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA.

Over the coming years, virtually every city council and county supervisorial board will eventually have to weigh the pros and cons of cannabis retail.”We can all have different opinions, but we have to work from the same set of facts,” said Leafly CEO Tim Leslie. “These discussions should be informed by the best available research, not imagined fears and archaic mythology.”

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Cooking with Cannabis: Tips From a Red Seal Chef

In a survey conducted by the US-based National Restaurant Association in late 2018, almost 700 professional chefs predicted that CBD-infused drinks and CBD-infused foods would be the most popular trends in dining in the coming year.

They predicted that infusing foods with cannabis would create unique culinary opportunities and establish a new dining experience. Many industry insiders expect the same scenario to unfold in Canada after edibles and concentrates become legal nationwide.

People don’t scrutinize cannabis the way they scrutinize food, but they should.

Chef John MacNeil

In anticipation of that development, Zenabis, a licensed producer of medical and recreational cannabis based in Vancouver, BC, has teamed up with Red Seal chef John MacNeil. A chef earns a Red Seal accreditation by demonstrating superior skills and knowledge, and passing a national exam.

MacNeil is from Cape Breton, NS, but worked at Michelin-rated restaurants in Europe and then made a name for himself in Calgary, where he was an executive chef of the award-winning Italian restaurant, Teatro Ristorante. He opened The Black Pig Bistro in the city’s trendy Bridgeland area five years ago. He later sold it to his business partners and started reTreat Edibles, which sells baking mixes formulated to accommodate the addition of cannabis.

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Aware of his credentials, many Canadians approach MacNeil, an expert in molecular gastronomy, to discuss cooking with cannabis. He starts by emphasizing the importance of origin. “You should only use legally produced cannabis to ensure it’s clean and safe,” he says. “People don’t scrutinize cannabis the way they scrutinize food, but they should.”

He fields many questions in those conversations. Here are some of the most common:

How does cannabis affect the flavour of a dish?

Like wine grapes, cannabis comes in countless strains with various flavours including, for example, citrus, berry, mint and pine. These flavours are created by aromatic oils called terpenes, which are secreted in the same glands that produce cannabis compounds including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Terpenes form part of the flavour profile of a cannabis-infused dish so it’s important to select ones that complement the other ingredients.

How much cannabis should be included in a dish?

MacNeil compares learning how much cannabis to include in a dish to learning how to cook steak properly. You overcook then undercook before learning to make it just right. It takes practice to find out where the sweet spot is, he says.

Dosing varies from one individual to the next depending on a person’s previous history of cannabis consumption, gastrointestinal factors, and the sensitivity of his or her endocannabinoid system. Most experts recommend a starting dose of no more than 2.5 mg of bud for beginners. However, since effects vary based on each person consuming, MacNeil does not make dosing recommendations.

Also, it takes awhile for edibles to take effect so beginners often make the mistake of ingesting too much too soon. MacNeil and other experts advise beginners to wait around two hours before deciding whether to take a second dose.

What is one of the most popular cannabis-infused items people make at home?

Many people express an interest in cannabis-infused brownies. MacNeil recommends using Thai coconut milk and French chocolate.

To infuse cannabis into chocolate brownies and other baked goods, many people use the whole plant, drying, curing and then grinding it into a flour-like substance and combining it with cooking oil or butter.

When should THC and CBD be consumed?

This is entirely up to the individual consuming it. Depending on the desired outcome, some prefer consuming high THC, a psychoactive compound, while others prefer high CBD for less of a high. In short, pick a strain based on your desired effect.

Cooking with Cannabis Recipes by Chef John MacNeil

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