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Smoke Signals and Mixed Messages: Medical Marijuana & Drug Policy Signalling Effects

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  • Niko De Silva

    ()
    (QUT)

  • Benno Torgler

    ()
    (QUT)

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    Abstract

    Liberal drug policy reform is often criticized for 'sending the wrong message', particularly to youth. Reform opponents argue that liberal policies such as decriminalisation and medical marijuana laws will cause marijuana to be perceived as less risky and lead to an increase in use. We seek to test this claim empirically, exploiting the timing and unique properties of state level medical marijuana laws in the US to isolate policy signalling effects. We use survey-derived state-level estimates of youths' marijuana risk-perceptions and use prevalence, and find evidence of signalling effects on aggregate risk-perceptions of marijuana use that correspond to the introduction of medical marijuana laws. These effects, however, do not conform to what reform opponents predict - medical marijuana provisions appear to send the 'right' message. Further, we find no robust effects on non-medical marijuana use.

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    File URL: http://external-apps.qut.edu.au/business/documents/discussionPapers/2011/WP272.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology in its series School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series with number 272.

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    Length: 57 pages
    Date of creation: 12 Sep 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:qut:dpaper:272

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    Web page: http://www.bus.qut.edu.au/faculty/economics/
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    Keywords: Medical marijuana; drug policy; ballot initiatives; policy signalling;

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    1. Henry Saffer & Frank Chaloupka, 1995. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," NBER Working Papers 5238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    11. Dhaval M. Dave & Swati Mukerjee, 2008. "Mental Health Parity Legislation, Cost-Sharing and Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions," NBER Working Papers 14471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    14. Xueyan Zhao & Mark N. Harris, 2004. "Demand for Marijuana, Alcohol and Tobacco: Participation, Levels of Consumption and Cross-equation Correlations," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 80(251), pages 394-410, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Anderson, D. Mark & Rees, Daniel I., 2011. "Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption," IZA Discussion Papers 6112, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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