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

39 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2018 Last revised: 24 Nov 2019

See all articles by Vincent Pohl

Vincent Pohl

Mathematica Policy Research, Washington, DC

Date Written: November 21, 2019

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, Vincent, Time Trends Matter: The Case of Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Overdose Mortality (November 21, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3192703 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3192703

Vincent Pohl (Contact Author)

Mathematica Policy Research, Washington, DC ( email )

1100 1st Street, NE, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20002-4221
United States

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