Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy

The enactment of adult use cannabis regulation is not associated with upticks in marijuana use by adolescents

  • "I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth. [There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers. We just haven't seen that pan out. ... It appears that teenagers make decisions to consume marijuana for reasons other than legalization—like they do with other risk behaviors."
  • "[T]he presence of recreational marijuana retail stores was not associated with perceived easy access to marijuana, controlling for perceived ease of access before the retail sales. There was no significant change in past 30-day marijuana use in bivariate analysis or in a multivariate model including presence of a recreational marijuana store."
  • "For adults and adolescents [in Colorado], past-month marijuana use has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users. Based on the most comprehensive data available, past month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average."
    Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Monitoring Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado, 2017
  • [M]arijuana use, both among adults and among youth [in Colorado], does not appear to be increasing to date. No change was observed in past 30-day marijuana use among adults between 2014 (13.6 percent) and 2015 (13.4 percent). Similarly, there was no statistically significant change in 30-day or lifetime marijuana use among high school students between 2013 (lifetime: 36.9 percent, 30-day: 19.7 percent) and 2015 (lifetime: 38.0 percent, 30-day: 21.2 percent)."

The establishment of cannabis retailers is not associated with upticks in criminal activity

  • "[W]e find no support for the idea that closing dispensaries reduces crime. Rather, temporary closures deter some types of Part I (serious) crime. ... "An open dispensary provides over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented."
  • "There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study. These results suggest that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras), may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders."

Neither medical use nor adult use legalization is associated with adverse effects on traffic safety

  • "We (the state of Colorado) have not experienced any significant issue as a result of legalization. ... We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI's since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here."
  • "We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization. ... [W]e also found no association between recreational marijuana legalization and total crash rates when analyzing available state-reported nonfatal crash statistics."
  • "In monitoring the impacts of recreational marijuana legalization in Washington State, government researchers report that there was no trend identified in the percentage of drivers testing positive for marijuana (either marijuana only or marijuana in combination with other drugs/alcohol) for those involved in traffic fatalities and who were tested for drugs or alcohol
    The Marijuana Policy Gap and the Path Forward, Congressional Research Service, 2017
  • "To this point, as a result of legalization, we haven't seen a large spike or epidemic of ... THC driving [in Oregon]."

Marijuana regulation is not associated with adverse effects on workplace performance or safety

Marijuana regulation is associated with increased tax revenue and job creation

  • A state by state analysis by content provider Leafly.com identified 149,304 full-time jobs in the legal cannabis sector.
  • "Cannabis sales in Washington state continue to grow at a steady rate, with total 2017 sales topping $1.1 billion at the end of September. ... According to data released by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, over the past five months the state's cannabis industry has broken a number of its own sales records, with monthly sales now exceeding $130 million."
  • "Nevada dispensaries sold more than $33 million in recreational marijuana and the state pulled in nearly $5 million in total taxes in August (2017), according to numbers released by the Nevada Department of Taxation. ... The recreational sales numbers were significantly ahead of the state's projected $21.5 million in sales for August. In fact, the state did not project any month in the first year of recreational sales to eclipse $28 million."
  • "In this paper we contribute to the debate on the impacts of recreational marijuana legalization on local communities by examining the effects of retail marijuana stores on nearby house prices in Denver, Colorado. ... Using a difference-in-differences model, we compare houses that are in close proximity to a retail conversion to those that are slightly farther away from a retail conversion before and after the legalization of recreational sales. We find that after the law went into effect at the end of 2013, single family residences close to a retail conversion (within 0.1 miles) increased in value by approximately 8.4% relative to houses that are located slightly farther from a conversion (between 0.1 miles and 0.25 miles) in 2014 compared to the previous year."
  • "In Colorado, cannabis-specific taxes and fees have yielded $506,143,635 in state revenue since January 1, 2014."
  • "Does legalizing retail marijuana generate more benefits than costs? This paper addresses this question by measuring the benefits and costs that are capitalized into housing values. We exploit the time-series and cross-sectional variations in the adoption of Colorado's municipality retail marijuana laws (RMLs) and examine the effect on housing values with a difference-in-differences strategy. Our estimates show that the legalization leads to an average 6 percent increase in housing values, indicating that the capitalized benefits outweigh the costs. ... In conclusion, this paper provides convincing causal evidence that legalizing retail marijuana generates net benefits, as measured through the housing market."
  • Tax revenue from marijuana sales in Oregon and Washington have greatly exceeded initial projections.