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Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Medical-marijuana dispensaries' effect on crime unclear - The Denver Post

Medical-marijuana dispensaries' effect on crime unclear - The Denver Post

The would-be thieves — captured on surveillance video at the Colorado Springs medical-marijuana dispensary they were trying to burglarize — made for a fitting symbol of the connection between dispensaries and crime.

Prevented by locked doors in front of them from getting what they came for and prevented by locked doors behind them from getting away, they were stuck in the muddled middle.

With a calendar year of data now available, local law enforcement officials face a similar predicament.

Crimes connected to medical marijuana have undoubtedly increased since the beginning of Colorado's cannabis boom.

Robbers target the expanded number of people legally growing marijuana. Burglars break into dispensaries that didn't exist 18 months ago. Police have publicly linked incidents of violence and even a homicide to medical marijuana.

"Across the state, we're seeing an increase in crime related to dispensaries," said Ernie Martinez, a Denver police detective who is president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. "And that's just the crime that's being reported to us."

But so far, there is no statistical evidence that medical-marijuana businesses have made neighborhoods less safe overall.

A Denver police analysis completed late last year of areas around dispensaries showed that the number of crimes in those pockets dropped in the first nine months of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. The drop, 8.2 percent, was marginally less than the city's overall drop in crime of 8.8 percent, according to police.

Meanwhile, a Denver Post analysis of crimes committed in the first 11 months of 2010 found that some Denver neighborhoods with the highest concentration of dispensaries per capita saw a bigger decrease in crimes than did some neighborhoods with no dispensaries.

What these numbers mean, though, and whether dispensaries have played any role in the changes is unclear.

"It's not like I have seen excessive reports" involving violence linked to medical marijuana, said Steve Fox, director of public affairs for the National Cannabis Industry Association. "It's no different from any normal business. You always will have robberies and break-ins where someone believes there are valuables."

Dispensaries as targets

Read more: Medical-marijuana dispensaries' effect on crime unclear - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_17178820#ixzz1BxRkTouY
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