Medical Marijuana Regulation
The United States is currently undergoing an unprecedented liberalization of state marijuana policies: 23 states and DC have passed medical marijuana legislation, and several states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The implications of these policy reforms on marijuana dependence and other, related outcomes such as the use of other substances, crime, and healthcare have yet to be fully explored. Statistics showing a rise in daily use of marijuana over the policy change time period is troubling and suggests a need for research. The proposed session includes three papers that use credible research designs (differences-in-differences) to explore the effects of expanded access to medical marijuana. Paper 1 explores how access to medical marijuana can influence health and labor supply among older adults using data from the Health and Retirement Study. The second paper, drawing data on high school students from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, examines whether state medical marijuana laws influence marijuana use and obesity among youth. Paper 3 uses Medicare claims data to study how expanded access to medical marijuana may impact use of prescription drugs for which medical marijuana may serve as a substitute. Collectively these studies offer new, timely evidence on the impacts of expanded medical marijuana access in understudied populations (older adults) and for outcomes that have received little attention in the literature (labor supply, obesity, use of prescription drugs).