The Effect of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries on Opioid and Heroin Overdose Mortality

24 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2018

See all articles by Julio Garin

Julio Garin

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance

R. Vincent Pohl

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

Rhet Smith

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - Department of Economics and Finance

Date Written: October 20, 2018

Abstract

Opioid overdose is the most common cause of accidental death in the United States and no policy response has been able to contain this epidemic to date. We examine whether local access to medical cannabis can reduce opioid-related mortality. Using a unique data set of medical cannabis dispensaries combined with county-level mortality data, we estimate the effect of dispensaries operating in a county on the number of overdose deaths. We find that counties with dispensaries experience 6% to 8% fewer opioid-related deaths among non-Hispanic white men. Mortality involving heroin declines by approximately 10% following the opening of a dispensary.

Keywords: Cannabis Dispensaries, Medical Cannabis Laws, Marijuana, Opioid Overdoses, Heroin Overdoses, Opioid Epidemic

JEL Classification: I12, I18, K32

Suggested Citation

Garin, Julio and Pohl, R. Vincent and Smith, Rhet, The Effect of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries on Opioid and Heroin Overdose Mortality (October 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3270101 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3270101

Julio Garin

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

500 E. Ninth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6420
United States

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

Rhet Smith

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Little Rock, AR 72204
United States

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