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Assessing the Effects of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana and Alcohol Use: The Devil is in the Details

Author

Listed:
  • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula
  • David Powell
  • Paul Heaton
  • Eric L. Sevigny

Abstract

This paper sheds light on previous inconsistencies identified in the literature regarding the relationship between medical marijuana laws (MML) and recreational marijuana use by closely examining the importance of policy dimensions (registration requirements, home cultivation, dispensaries) and the timing of them. Using data from our own legal analysis of state MMLs, we evaluate which features are associated with adult and youth recreational use by linking these policy variables to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97), the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the Treatment Episodes Data System (TEDS). Our analyses control for state and year fixed effects, using within state policy changes over time to estimate the effect on changes in our outcome variables using a difference-in-differences approach. We find that while simple dichotomous indicators are generally not associated with marijuana use, specific dimensions of MMLs, namely home cultivation and legal dispensaries, are positively associated with marijuana use in each data set. Moreover, these same dimensions are tied to binge drinking and fatal alcohol automobile accidents as well. The findings have important implications for states considering legalization of marijuana, as regulating access to and promotion of dispensaries may be key for reducing the harms associated with these policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & David Powell & Paul Heaton & Eric L. Sevigny, 2013. "Assessing the Effects of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana and Alcohol Use: The Devil is in the Details," NBER Working Papers 19302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19302
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Pacula Rosalie Liccardo & Kilmer Beau & Grossman Michael & Chaloupka Frank J, 2010. "Risks and Prices: The Role of User Sanctions in Marijuana Markets," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-38, February.
    2. Crost, Benjamin & Guerrero, Santiago, 2012. "The effect of alcohol availability on marijuana use: Evidence from the minimum legal drinking age," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 112-121.
    3. Frank J. Chaloupka & Adit Laixuthai, 1997. "Do Youths Substitute Alcohol and Marijuana? Some Econometric Evidence," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 253-276, Summer.
    4. Saffer, Henry & Chaloupka, Frank, 1999. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 401-411, July.
    5. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
    6. Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo, 1998. "Does increasing the beer tax reduce marijuana consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 557-585, October.
    7. Matthew C. Farrelly & Jeremy W. Bray & Gary A. Zarkin & Brett W. Wendling & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, 1999. "The Effects of Prices and Policies on the Demand for Marijuana: Evidence from the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse," NBER Working Papers 6940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Caulkins Jonathan P., 1995. "Domestic Geographic Variation in Illicit Drug Prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 38-56, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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