The Effects of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries on Adverse Opioid Outcomes
41 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2017 Last revised: 5 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 3, 2017
As the U.S. opioid epidemic surges to unprecedented levels and individual states continue to enact laws liberalizing marijuana use, understanding the relationship between narcotics and marijuana consumption is growing increasingly important. This paper uses a unique marijuana dispensary dataset to exploit within- and across-state variation in dispensary openings to estimate the effect increased access to marijuana has on narcotic-related admissions to treatment facilities and drug-induced mortalities. I find that core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) with dispensary openings experience a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment admissions over the first two years of dispensary operations. The effect is strongest for non-Hispanic white males in their thirties, a demographic whose recent increase in morbidity and mortality rates diverge from prior trends and from those of other demographic groups over the same time period. Finally, I provide suggestive evidence that dispensary operations negatively affect drug-induced mortality rates. These results are confined to the areas directly exposed to dispensary openings suggesting a substitutability between the drug types while shedding light on the channel through which the negative relationship is being driven.
Keywords: Medical Marijuana,Opioids, Dispensaries, Substance Abuse, Mortality
JEL Classification: D78, I1, I18, K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation