Medical Marijuana Legalization, Marijuana Use and Obesity in US School-Aged Youth

Monday, June 13, 2016: 3:20 PM
401 (Fisher-Bennett Hall)

Author(s): Grace Bagwell Adams

Discussant: Dr. Kerry Anne McGeary

Over the past decade as state laws regulating the sale and possession of marijuana have undergone significant changes concern has increased over the impact of liberalization on youth marijuana use. Of concurrent concern are rates of youth obesity, which have exponentially increased over the past three decades. Further, substance use, body image, and positive or negative interactions with peers are individually known to be inputs into the health production function for high school youth. Despite these issues, little is known about the interaction among marijuana use, youth obesity, and peer effects. In this paper we will use data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from 1995 to 2013 to study the impact of marijuana use, nutritional inputs (including healthy eating and self-perceptions of body weight), and the quality of peer relationships policies on youth BMI. The analysis data contains a representative sample of over 800,000 high school youth from 39 states. Our models also control for relevant state policies, including medical marijuana legalization, youth medical marijuana legalization, legal possession limits, and restrictions on the site of use, among others. Our models will control for potential endogeneity using standard instrumental variables methods. Finally, we will discuss the potential policy interventions available to mitigate the adverse consequences of risky youth behaviors and nutritional deficits, and how those policies may differentially affect minority populations.