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EMILY JONES: Weed's new opponents: not-in-my-yard activists

On April 9, 2019

Many people rejoiced when Michigan passed legislation in November making recreational pot legal.

The law also allowed for businesses like grow operations, dispensaries, micro-grows and other things.

But according to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, more cities are opting out of having marijuana businesses than are opting in.

This is slightly confusing when one considers that the law was passed in the first place, meaning more citizens should want dispensaries close to them, right?

What we are seeing here is the classic “Not in my backyard” – NIMBY – response.

NIMBY describes the phenomenon of people opposing something that they would normally support if it was located far away from them.

This example is typically used with things like nuclear power, but I think it very much describes what is going on with Michigan residents’ weed attitudes lately.

However, these dismissive actions may not accurately reflect what legal weed would do for a city.

Crime and other unsavory things might not even be related to drug use.

According to a study done by the UCLA in 2014 on the correlation between medical marijuana dispensaries and crime rates, “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study.”

The study reported  “that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras), may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders.”

This makes sense, right?

If you make something legal (or, at the very least, decriminalized), the black-market struggle is drastically reduced and so is crime surrounding it.

It may have other effects as well.

An article by Drug Policy.org noted that for states like Colorado and Alaska, marijuana usage rates for high school students “largely resemble national rates.”

This means that having legal pot doesn’t lead more teens to use it, which is a common reason for people to not want to have it in their neighborhoods.

The organization also reported that drug overdose deaths are 25% less than states that have no legal marijuana.

States with legal weed also have been associated with lowered opioid dependence, opioid treatment admissions and hospitalizations.

In Colorado and Washington, driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol has declined.

There are other reasons for cities to consider having marijuana dispensaries in their area, but these are just a couple of them.

A lot of good can come from something like this.

We shouldn’t let paranoia and NIMBY can get in the way.

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