As of 2013, medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, but few studies have investigated the consequences of the retail centers that sell the drug. We draw upon the social construction literature to frame our research and help us determine whether medical marijuana centers in Denver, Colorado (USA) are considered locally undesirable land uses (LULUs). The geography of health and environmental justice frameworks lead us to hypothesize that marijuana centers are more likely to be opened in Hispanic, Black, and poor neighborhoods than in White and affluent neighborhoods. We also hypothesize that marijuana centers will tend to increase the minority composition and poverty of the neighborhoods in which they are located. Contrary to expectations we find no empirical support for these two hypotheses. Instead, results suggest marijuana centers are likely to be situated in neighborhoods with higher crime rates and more retail employment. Thus, despite the view by many planners and law enforcement officials that these centers are problematic, they do not take on LULU characteristics in siting and demographic changes. This finding, while limited to Denver, has important implications for policymakers who are considering similar marijuana policies.
|Publication status||Published - 5 Feb 2014|