Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among College Students

Economic Complements or Substitutes?

Published in: Health Economics, v. 13, no. 9, Sep. 2004, p. 825-843

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2003

by Jenny Williams, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Frank J. Chaloupka, Henry Wechsler

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Previous research has shown that the recent tightening of college alcohol policies has been effective at reducing college students' drinking. Over the period in which these stricter alcohol policies have been put in place, marijuana use among college students has increased. This raises the question of whether current policies aimed at reducing alcohol consumption are inadvertently encouraging marijuana use. This paper begins to address this question by investigating the relationship between the demands for alcohol and marijuana for college students using data from the 1993, 1997 and 1999 waves of the Harvard School of Public Health's College Alcohol Study (CAS). The authors find that alcohol and marijuana are economic complements and that policies that increase the full price of alcohol decrease participation in marijuana use.

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