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Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers?

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  • Powell, David
  • Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo
  • Jacobson, Mireille

Abstract

Recent work finds that medical marijuana laws reduce the daily doses filled for opioid analgesics among Medicare Part-D and Medicaid enrollees, as well as population-wide opioid overdose deaths. We replicate the result for opioid overdose deaths and explore the potential mechanism. The key feature of a medical marijuana law that facilitates a reduction in overdose death rates is a relatively liberal allowance for dispensaries. As states have become more stringent in their regulation of dispensaries, the protective value generally has fallen. These findings suggest that broader access to medical marijuana facilitates substitution of marijuana for powerful and addictive opioids.

Suggested Citation

  • Powell, David & Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo & Jacobson, Mireille, 2018. "Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 29-42.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:29-42
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.12.007
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Medical marijuana; Opioids; Pain killers; Dispensaries; Mortality; Substance abuse;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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