Costs of Legalization

The number of marijuana dispensaries impacts hospitalizations

  1. For every one marijuana dispensary per square mile added there was a 6.8% increase in the number of marijuana hospitalizations with a marijuana abuse/dependence code.  Policy makers should regulate the density of dispensaries.
  2. There was a large and steady increase in the rates of marijuana abuse/dependence hospitalizations from 2001 to 2012 in California (with medical marijuana dispensaries at this time) even after controlling for demographic and other environmental covariates.

Public health impacts to date of the legalisation of medical and recreational cannabis use in the USA

The legality of cannabis use has been changing in a number of jurisdictions around the world. In the U.S., it has been legalised for medicinal and/or recreational uses in 34 jurisdictions and counting. This study leverages the decades-long experience of legalisation in the U.S. to provide an overview of the associated changes in public attitudes, cannabis markets and adverse health effects. We found a broad-based warming of public attitudes toward legalisation, potentially influenced by the increasingly positive portrayal of cannabis in media and declines in cannabis risk perceptions. Potency of cannabis products increased significantly while prices fell sharply. Although adults were less responsive to price changes than adolescents, adults who use cannabis regularly were sensitive to prices, with an estimated 10% price reduction leading to about 2.5% increase in the rate of use. Overall, past-year cannabis use has increased in adults since 2002, and adults over 26 years old who resided in states with medicinal cannabis laws were more likely to have used cannabis in the past 30 days, to have used daily, and to have higher rates of cannabis use disorders than adults who resided in states without legalised medicinal cannabis. Traffic fatalities involving cannabis temporarily increased in some states post-legalisation, and there were more presentations to medical services related to chronic regular cannabis use. There is suggestive evidence that adverse health consequences have increased among people who use cannabis regularly since legalisation. More robust research is needed to determine whether these effects of legalisation are temporary or long-term.

Geographical variation in hospitalization for psychosis associated with cannabis use and cannabis legalization in the United States: Submit to: Psychiatry Research

Jan 4, 2022


The 2017 National Inpatient Sample database was utilized to investigate the association between cannabis legalization in the United States and hospitalizations for psychosis associated with cannabis use. We compared the odds of hospital discharges for psychosis associated with cannabis use in adults between the Pacific census division (where most states legalized recreational cannabis use) and other divisions using multivariable logistic regression, adjusting for confounders. We calculated a score for each census division representing cannabis legality as the population-weighted sum of state scores: 1=illegal or cannabidiol/low potency cannabis; 2= medical marijuana; and 3=recreational and medical marijuana legalized. Pearson’s correlation coefficients (r) quantified the relationship between scores and the proportion of hospitalizations with psychosis associated with cannabis. In 2017, there were an estimated 129,070 hospital discharges for psychosis associated with cannabis use. The Pacific census division had significantly higher odds of discharges than other divisions (adjusted odds ratio 1.55; 95% confidence interval 1.25 – 1.93). There was a significant correlation between the cannabis legality score and proportion of hospital discharges for psychosis associated with cannabis use (r = 0.67, p<0.05). In conclusion, we observed a higher proportion of hospital discharges for psychosis associated with cannabis use in areas with more liberal cannabis legalization laws.