Eric Ross (top), lecturer in Planning and Design, and Jeremy Németh (bottom), associate professor and chair of Planning and Design and Director, Master of Urban Design Program, presented a poster at the City and County of Denver’s GIS Day on Nov. 20. Their project was “The Cannabis Conundrum: How Fair is Medical Marijuana Land Use Policy?” Using GIS and available data, they examined the spatial distribution of medical marijuana facilities across several regulatory scenarios in Denver, Colorado – the city currently at the forefront of this debate – and evaluated the resulting distributions against at-risk populations based on socioeconomic status.

They found that all four representative models concentrate dispensaries in socioeconomically disadvantaged (SED) tracts. Both zoning and location restrictions explain this discrepancy. According to the project, planners and policy makers should conduct similar analyses in order to adopt and adapt models that fit their particular situation and distribute dispensaries more equitably in SED and non-SED neighborhoods.

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