Study: Medical Cannabis Access States Associated with Lower Rates of Prescription Stimulant Use

New York, NY: The use of prescription stimulants is lower in states where medical cannabis is legal as compared to those jurisdictions where it remains prohibited, according to data published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Researchers affiliated with Columbia University in New York and with Boston University assessed the association between the enactment of medical marijuana laws and prescription stimulant use by gender and by sexual identity.

They reported, “Medical prescription stimulant use was lower in MCL (medical cannabis legalization) states versus non-MCL states for heterosexual men (3.7 percent versus 4.6 percent) and women (4.2 percent versus 5.7 percent). Bisexual men’s medical stimulant use prevalence was 4.2 percent in MCL states versus 9.9 percent in non-MCL states: among women, it was 7.3 percent versus 8.6 percent. Among bisexual men, non-medical prescription stimulant use was 5.6 percent in MCL states versus 8.1 percent in non-MCL states; for bisexual women, it was 6.0 percent versus 7.9 percent.”

They concluded, “The ‘spillover’ effect of MCL enactment on the use of substances besides cannabis should be explicitly tested in future studies.”

Numerous observational and longitudinal studies have previously reported similar reductions in the use of prescription drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, following the enactment of marijuana access laws.

Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana laws and medical and non-medical prescription stimulant use among a nationally representative sample of US adults: Potential spillover effects by sexual identity and gender,” appears in the International Journal of Drug Policy.