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Marijuana Dispensaries

Variable Definitions:
Marijuana Dispensaries: The total count of marijuana & tobacco stores in a given area


City of Los Angeles Office of Finance

Years Available:

Methodology Note:

The original data comes at the point level. Our team geocoded the locations to generate X/Y coordinates, then spatial joined each point to 2020 Census Tracts.

Why are these variables important to measure?

Marijuana Dispensaries

In 2018, the Adult Usage of Marijuana Act (AUMA) succeeded in permitting state licensing for commercial cannabis businesses and operations. The Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is responsible for bringing marijuana to a regulated market with formulated policy protections, along with a smaller department of Cannabis Regulation focused specifically in the City of LA. Marijuana was first legalized for medical purposes in 1996 and in 2016 via Prop 64 for recreational use. 
Many studies have found a correlation between marijuana dispensaries to poorer health outcomes, higher incidences of crime, prevalence of overall substance use, etc. However, studies illustrating the positive effects of marijuana use or alternate theories to explain its harmful correlations have created a strong division of public opinion on its place in a community.  For example, one study critically investigates the links between dispensaries and higher crime rates and presents a theory different from the common assumption. Higher incidences of crime may be a result of higher security measures imposed by the dispensary, rather than the presence of the dispensary itself. It is important to identify marijuana dispensaries, especially those in plurality, to critically understand how its presence not only influences but actively affects other aspects of a neighborhood or community.
Written by Kyra Chan


Cal. Health & Safety (H&S) § 11362.5

Contreras. (2017). A Block-Level Analysis of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Crime in the City of Los Angeles. Justice Quarterly, 34(6), 1069–1095. https://doi.org/10.1080/07418825.2016.1270346

Department of Cannabis Regulation. (2023). City of Los Angeles. Link

Freisthler, Ponicki, W. R., Gaidus, A., & Gruenewald, P. J. (2016). A micro-temporal geospatial analysis of medical marijuana dispensaries and crime in Long Beach, California. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 111(6), 1027–1035. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.13301

Lankenau, Tabb, L. P., Kioumarsi, A., Ataiants, J., Iverson, E., & Wong, C. F. (2019). Density of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Current Marijuana Use among Young Adult Marijuana Users in Los Angeles. Substance Use & Misuse, 54(11), 1862–1874. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2019.1618332

Los Angeles (LA) Municipal Code, 4 § 104.00

Mair, C., Freisthler, B., Ponicki, W. R., & Gaidus, A. (2015). The impacts of marijuana dispensary density and neighborhood ecology on marijuana abuse and dependence. Drug and alcohol dependence, 154, 111–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.06.019

Office of Cannabis Management. (2023). Los Angeles County Consumer & Business Affairs. Link

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