Associations Between Young Adult Marijuana Outcomes and Availability of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Storefront Signage

Published in: Addiction (2019). doi: 10.1111/add.14711

by Regina A. Shih, Anthony Rodriguez, Layla Parast, Eric R. Pedersen, Joan S. Tucker, Wendy M. Troxel, Lisa Kraus, Jordan P. Davis, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

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We investigated associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries (MMDs) around young adults' homes and marijuana use outcomes. Design. Secondary data analysis. Setting: Los Angeles County, California, USA.


1,887 participants aged 18–22 years, surveyed online in 2016–17.


Outcomes were past month marijuana use (number of days used, number of times each day), positive expectancies, and perceived peer use. Density was measured as the total number of MMDs and number of MMDs with storefront signage indicative of marijuana sales, within 4 miles of respondents' homes.


Nearly 85% of respondents had 10 or more MMDs within 4 miles of their homes. Multiple linear regression analyses that adjusted for individual-level sociodemographic characteristics and neighborhood socioeconomic status indicated that living near a higher number of MMDs was associated with greater number of days used in the past month (β=0.025; 95% CI=0.001, 0.049; p=0.04) and higher positive marijuana expectancies (β=0.003; 95% CI=0.001, 0.007; p=0.04). Living near more MMDs with storefront signage had a four- to six-fold larger effect on number of times used per day and positive expectancies, respectively, compared with associations with the total MMD count. Adjusting for medical marijuana card ownership attenuated the association with number of days used in the past month and positive expectancies, and an unexpected association emerged between higher MMD density and fewer number of times used each day (β=-0.005; 95% CI=-0.009, -0.001; p=0.03).


For young adults in Los Angeles County, living near more medical marijuana dispensaries (MMDs) is positively associated with more frequent use of marijuana within the past month and greater expectations of marijuana's positive benefits. MMDs with signage show stronger associations with number of times used each day and positive expectancies.

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