The Kids Aren't Alright

The Effects of Medical Marijuana Market Size on Adolescents

Published in: Journal of Health Economics, Volume 87 (January 2023). doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2022.102700

Posted on RAND.org on December 09, 2022

by Rosanna Smart, Jacqueline Doremus

We exploit shocks to US federal enforcement policy to assess how legal medical marijuana market size affects youth marijuana use and consequences for youth traffic-related fatalities. Using hand-collected data on state medical marijuana patient rates to develop a novel measure of market size, we find that legal market growth increases youth marijuana use. Likely mechanisms are lower prices and easier access. Youth die more frequently from alcohol-involved car accidents, suggesting complementarities for youths. The consequences of marijuana legalization for youth are not immediate, but depend on how supply-side regulations affect production and prices.

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