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Do medical marijuana laws increase hard drug use?

Yu-Wei Chu ()

No 3195, Working Paper Series from Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance

Abstract: Medical marijuana laws generate significant policy debates regarding drug policy. In particular, if marijuana is a complement or a gateway drug to hard drugs, these laws would increase not only the usage of marijuana but hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. In this paper, I empirically study the relationships between marijuana and cocaine or heroin by analyzing data on drug possession arrests and rehabilitation treatment admissions. I find that medical marijuana laws increase marijuana arrests and treatments by 10–20%. However, there is no evidence that cocaine and heroin usage increases after the passage of medical marijuana laws. In fact, the estimates on cocaine and heroin arrests or treatments are uniformly negative. From the arrest data, the estimates indicate a 0–20% decrease in possession arrests for cocaine and heroin combined. From the treatment data, the estimates show a 20% decrease in heroin treatments but no significant effect on cocaine treatments. These results suggest that marijuana could be a substitute for heroin.

Keywords: Cocaine; Heroin; Illegal drug use; Marijuana; Medical marijuana laws (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/handle/10063/3195

Related works:
Journal Article: Do Medical Marijuana Laws Increase Hard-Drug Use? (2015) Downloads
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