RAND retracts medical marijuana centers study

The RAND Corporation announced today that it has completely retracted the study, “Regulating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: An Overview with Preliminary Evidence of Their Impact on Crime.”

Earlier this month, RAND pulled the study released in September for further review. The study claimed crime increased near medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles after they closed following a city ordinance issued last year.

“This was a rare failure of our peer review system,” said Debra Knopman, vice president of the RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment division, in a released statement. “We take our commitment to quality and objectivity seriously so we have retracted the study in order to correct it.”

The post-publication review found the crime data used in the report was insufficient to draw broader conclusions. According to RAND, The primary issue discovered during the internal review was that the data described as covering the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas did not include crime data reported by the Los Angeles Police Department.

However, even at the time of publication, RAND appeared to be aware of the shortcomings of the study. In the accompanying press release, RAND said, “Researchers say their findings should be interpreted cautiously, given that they studied a relatively short period of time and that the margin of error was high.”

RAND says it will release a new report after it collects new data.

The study was financially supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research program and is supposed to be a part of a larger project for the National Institute of Health.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at governmentality.net and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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