Medical marijuana dispensaries are associated with a reduction in prescription drug-related hospital admissions, and moralities, according to a new study published by the Social Science Research Network.
“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”, states the study’s abstract. “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.”
The study’s lead researcher, a University of Georgia economics professor, found 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, the study provides “suggestive evidence that dispensary operations negatively affect drug-induced mortality rates.”
The study concludes by stating; “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.”
The full study can be found by clicking here.