With a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles looming, Social Welfare professor Bridget Freisthler  conducted groundbreaking research funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to put a number on exactly how many dispensaries there are in the city limits.
The final tally, 472 as of Tuesday – two days before the ban was to go into effect – is radically different than the amount of medical marijuana dispensaries believed to be in operation.
Over the last three weeks, Freisthler and her research assistants found that within Los Angeles there were 875 unique locations of medical marijuana dispensaries. That number is over 100 more than what is on the city’s registered finance list and less than the 1,046 that the city says it sent letters to regarding the ban.
Freisthler’s research is the first of its kind to put an accurate number of operating medical marijuana dispensaries together, although the number can fluctuate based on openings and closings on any given day.
To find the magic number of 472, Freisthler and her research assistants visited each unique address for dispensaries that they found from lists they compiled using multiple electronic and hard copy sources, including the city ‘s finance list, to get a precise number. Over 40 percent of those dispensaries listed were not open or not operating as a dispensary and another 3 percent had invalid addresses.
The Los Angeles City Council has marked Sept. 6 as the date to shut down all marijuana dispensaries, although nearly 50,000 signatures were gathered and turned in last week in an effort to put a hold on the ban.
Fresithler found through her research since the 472 tally is “roughly the same as the number of bars in LA and roughly 20 percent of the number of off-premise alcohol outlets,” she said, referring to liquor and grocery stores.
“I make this comparison because the density of bars and off-premise outlets is related to a whole host of problems including violent crime and assaults,” Freisthler said. Previous research conducted by Nancy Kepple and Dr. Freisthler found no relationship between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and rates of violent or property crime.
To see a map of all the medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, please click here .