Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy

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

  • "With legalization of retail marijuana in Colorado, and the opening of dispensaries in January 2014, two key questions were how legalization would impact marijuana use and whether there would be an increase in adverse health events. Legalization did not noticeably impact marijuana use rates among adolescents or young adults. Past-30-day use among adolescents remained steady for more than ten years, pre- and post-legalization."
  • "According to the 2017 data [provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey,] the most recent available, 19.6 percent of Colorado high school students currently use marijuana -- a couple of ticks below the national average of 19.8 percent. Moreover, the latest Colorado numbers are well below the 21.2 percent registered in 2015, the year after recreational sales went into effect, and 22 percent circa the pre-legalization year of 2011. As for lifetime use of marijuana among Colorado high-schoolers, it fell to 35.5 percent, a little under the 35.6 percent national average. The Colorado figures from 2015 and 2011 were 38 percent and 39.5 percent, respectively."
  • "Certainly the worst things that we had great fear about (the legalization of marijuana for adults in Colorado) – spikes in consumption, kids, people driving while high – we haven't seen any of that. We saw a little increase in teenagers and that came down within a couple years. ... We were very worried that by legalizing, we were making this more somehow more psychologically available to kids. We haven't seen that. If anything, we've seen less drug dealers."

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

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

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

  • "There is no or insufficient evidence to support ... a statistical association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries."
  • Reducing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses is associated with increased probability of employment, particularly for young males, and an average increase of 4.5 percent in weekly earnings. "This data provides suggestive evidence that marijuana decriminalization laws improve extrinsic labor market outcomes. ... This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties."
    Economic Self-Sufficiency Policy Research Institute, Marijuana decriminalization and labor market outcomes, 2016

Marijuana regulation is associated with declining alcohol consumption

  • "We use data on purchases of alcoholic beverages in grocery, convenience, drug, or mass distribution stores in US counties for 2006-2015 to study the link between medical marijuana laws and alcohol consumption and focus on settling the debate between the substitutability or complementarity between marijuana and alcohol. ... We find that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces alcohol consumption. We find consistent evidence across different specifications and alcohol products (i.e. alcohol in general, beer and wine). States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decrease in the aggregate sales of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law."
  • "Research firm Cowen & Company analyzed the state of the beer industry in Colorado, Oregon and Washington—states where both recreational weed is legal and craft beer has become popular. In those states, beer markets have "collectively underperformed" over the last two years, trailing behind beer sales around the country."

Marijuana regulation is associated with increased tax revenue and job creation

  • "Here's a striking figure for the nascent cannabis industry that only recently began to operate legitimately: It supports 125,000-160,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. To put that in perspective, the marijuana industry now supports approximately the same numbers of full-time workers as there are librarians and kindergarten teachers in the country – and roughly three times the number of employees in the U.S. coal industry. Over the next five years, the number of full-time marijuana workers is expected to more than double as large markets including California ramp up and new states come online."
  • "According to ZipRecruiter data, the total number of industry job posts increased by 445% in 2017. ... Our data also shows that the cannabis industry is growing more rapidly than some of today’s fastest-growing fields. Year over year growth of job posts in the cannabis industry is outpacing both tech (254% growth) and healthcare (70% growth). ... Not only does the legalization of cannabis create a safer and more stable market for medical and recreational users, but it also significantly drives job growth."