Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy

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

  • “Rates of marijuana use by teens have been of great interest to researchers over the past decade, given major social and legislative shifts around the drug. … Fortunately, even as teens’ attitudes toward marijuana’s harms continue to relax, they are not showing corresponding increases in marijuana use.”
  • There has been “no significant change in past 30‐day use of marijuana between 2013 (19.7%) and 2017 (19.4%). Also, in 2017, the use rates were not different from the national 30‐day use rates reported by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In 2017, 19.4% of Colorado high school students reported using marijuana in the past 30‐days compared to 19.8% of high school students nationally that reported this behavior.”

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

  • “This paper studies the effects of marijuana legalization on neighborhood crime and documents the patterns in retail dispensary locations over time using detailed micro-level data from Denver, Colorado. … The results imply that an additional dispensary in a neighborhood leads to a reduction of 17 crimes per month per 10,000 residents, which corresponds to roughly a 19 percent decline relative to the average crime rate over the sample period. … Overall, our results suggest that dispensaries cause an overall reduction in crime in neighborhoods, with no evidence of spillovers to surrounding neighborhoods. … Our results are consistent with theories that predict that marijuana legalization will displace illicit criminal organizations and decrease crime through changes in security behaviors or substitution toward more harmful substances. … Lastly, there is no evidence that increased marijuana use itself results in additional crime.”
  • “Using 2010 to 2015 Uniform Crime Reports data, the research undertakes interrupted time-series analysis on the offenses known to be cleared by arrest to create monthly counts of violent and property crime clearance rate as well as disaggregated counts by crime type. Findings suggest no negative effects of legalization on crime clearance rates. Moreover, evidence suggests some crime clearance rates have improved. Our findings suggest legalization has resulted in improvements in some clearance rates.”

Medical cannabis access laws are not associated with adverse effects on traffic safety

Adult-use marijuana laws have generally been associated with few changes in traffic safety, though more recent studies have yielded less consistent findings

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

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

  • “The number of people working in the U.S. cannabis industry is expected to jump to 240,000-295,000 by the end of 2020, slightly higher than the number of computer programmers employed in the United States.”
  • “One unanticipated effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the growth acceleration of legal cannabis markets (and erosion of illicit markets) in those states which have activated both medical and adult-use sales. … Through higher sales and increased patient participation in medical-only markets, the second quarter of 2020 saw surging patient counts in medical markets – particularly in those having 1) lower barriers to entry (i.e., less restrictive qualification requirements), and 2) more accessible markets (i.e., greater density among dispensaries). … Oregon saw record-setting sales in March, April, and May (the latter seeing the state generate $100 million in cannabis sales for the single-highest monthly total since the program’s launch). For its part, Colorado (with the country’s most mature adult-use market) saw record sales in May, which neared $200 million for the first time in its program’s history. … Analyzing retail data from 24 legal cannabis markets, New Frontier Data found that average consumer monthly spending rose to record highs in April and May, reaching $290 and $296, respectively.”
  • “There are now nearly a quarter of a million Americans whose professional lives are categorized as [either] illegal or nonexistent by the government of the United States. … If cannabis industry jobs were tallied like other jobs, … legal cannabis would be acknowledged as the fastest growing industry in America.”
  • “[L]istings for cannabis-related positions have rocketed to the top echelon of the fastest-growing-job categories on sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, said the company’s data put the number of cannabis jobs nationwide at 200,000 to 300,000.”
  • “States that legalize recreational cannabis see an immediate bump in home values following legalization, even without retail dispensaries opening up. From 2017 to 2019, cities where recreational marijuana is legal saw home values increase $6,337 more than cities where marijuana is illegal” after controlling for potential confounders.
  • “There are now more than 211,000 cannabis jobs across the United States. More than 64,000 of those jobs were added in 2018. … The cannabis workforce increased 21% in 2017. It gained another 44% in 2018. We expect at least another 20% growth in jobs in 2019. That would represent a 110% growth in cannabis jobs in just three years.”