Just because RAND pulled the “dispensary closures = more crime” study doesn’t mean it was wrong

By definition, if you legalize the sales of marijuana, you've reduced crime.

Maybe I’m being too pedantic here or maybe I’ve just developed an autonomous reflex from reading reefer madness every day that compels me to swat at logical fallacies.  The latest comes by way of Hamilton Nolan writing for a blog called Gawker in a piece entitled “Oh, Weed Spots Don’t Actually Reduce Crime“:

You see, the respected Rand Corporation did a big study of crime data and put out a fancy report last month saying that hey, these weed stores sure do bring down crime! It’s probably all the surveillance cameras they have, was the theory, although of course the real reason would have been the marijuana smokers all having the “munchies” too much to do crime—hey, why do crime when there are Chips Ahoy! brand cookies to be eaten while intoxicated on the THC found in marijuana, am I right?

Well well, what do you know, “stoner” marijuana apologists try to throw together a report using whatever they could find on the internet, only to find out that their data was incomplete, likely because Rand researchers were too overcome with the intoxicating effects of the THC found in marijuana to properly focus on their work! Just joshing you, Rand Corporation. Seriously everyone, we could all stand around making jokes about marijuana on the internet all day, but let’s just remember that medical marijuana leads to crime and move on with our lives—we need to go smoke more marijuana!

Let me walk you through the logical fallacy here, HamNo.  First off, RAND never asserted that “weed stores bring down crime”, they asserted that closing weed stores increased crime.  No mention was made of the crime levels before the dispensaries opened.

Second, incomplete data do not equate to incorrect hypothesis.  Suppose I told you there were close to seven billion people in the world because I counted them all.  Then you discovered later I only counted the people in my living room and made a wild-ass guess.  That doesn’t mean my guess wasn’t correct.

Maybe RAND goes back and gets complete data and discovers the hypothesis was correct: crime did increase when dispensaries were shuttered.  Maybe they’re wrong and crime decreased when dispensaries closed.  The jury is still out, HamNo.  But the LAPD has commented before that dispensaries haven’t really increased crime.  Similar studies of dispensary operations in Denver and Colorado Springs have also shown no correlation between dispensary operations and crime.

By the way, these “stoner marijuana apologists” at RAND?  A number of them have won the Nobel Prize.  Call us when you’re up for a Pulitzer.

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