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High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide


  • Anderson, D. Mark

    () (Montana State University)

  • Rees, Daniel I.

    () (University of Colorado Denver)

  • Sabia, Joseph J.

    () (San Diego State University)


Using state-level data for the period 1990 through 2007, we estimate the effect of legalizing medical marijuana on suicide rates. Our results suggest that the passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males. Estimates of the relationship between legalization and female suicides are less precise and are sensitive to functional form.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, D. Mark & Rees, Daniel I. & Sabia, Joseph J., 2012. "High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide," IZA Discussion Papers 6280, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6280

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philip DeCicca & Donald Kenkel & Alan Mathios & Yoon-Jeong Shin & Jae-Young Lim, 2008. "Youth smoking, cigarette prices, and anti-smoking sentiment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(6), pages 733-749.
    2. Christopher Carpenter, 2004. "Heavy alcohol use and youth suicide: Evidence from tougher drunk driving laws," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(4), pages 831-842.
    3. D. Mark Anderson & Benjamin Hansen & Daniel I. Rees, 2013. "Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(2), pages 333-369.
    4. Jan C. van Ours & Jenny Williams, 2011. "Cannabis use and mental health problems," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(7), pages 1137-1156, November.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    6. Minoiu, Camelia & Andres, Antonio Rodriguez, 2008. "The effect of public spending on suicide: Evidence from U.S. state data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 237-261, February.
    7. Antonio Rodriguez Andres, 2005. "Income inequality, unemployment, and suicide: a panel data analysis of 15 European countries," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(4), pages 439-451.
    8. Chatterji, Pinka & Dave, Daval & Kaestner, Robert & Markowitz, Sara, 2004. "Alcohol abuse and suicide attempts among youth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 159-180, June.
    9. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1992:82:1:112-115_4 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item


    medical marijuana laws; marijuana; alcohol; suicide;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


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