Time Trends Matter: The Case of Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Overdose Mortality

40 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2018  

R. Vincent Pohl

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 7, 2018

Abstract

Mortality due to opioid overdoses has been growing rapidly in the U.S., with some states experiencing much steeper increases than others. Legalizing medical cannabis could reduce opioid-related mortality if potential opioid users substitute towards cannabis as a safer alternative. I show, however, that a substantial reduction in opioid-related mortality associated with the implementation of medical cannabis laws can be explained by selection bias. States that legalized medical cannabis exhibit lower pre-existing mortality trends. Accordingly, the mitigating effect of medical cannabis laws on opioid-related mortality vanishes when I include state-specific time trends in state-year-level difference-in-differences regressions.

Keywords: medical cannabis laws, opioid overdose mortality, difference-in-differences, group-specific time trends

JEL Classification: C23, I12, I18, K32

Suggested Citation

Pohl, R. Vincent, Time Trends Matter: The Case of Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Overdose Mortality (June 7, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3192703 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3192703

R. Vincent Pohl (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

HOME PAGE: http://vincentpohl.com

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