Recreational Marijuana Laws and the Use of Opioids: Evidence from NSDUH Microdata
Recent studies have concluded that state laws legalizing medical marijuana can reduce deaths from opioid overdoses. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a survey uniquely suited to assessing drug misuse, we examine the relationship between recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) and the use of opioids. Standard difference-in-differences (DD) regression estimates indicate that RMLs do not affect the likelihood of misusing prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. Although DD regression estimates provide evidence that state laws legalizing recreational marijuana can reduce the frequency of misusing prescription pain relievers, event-study estimates are noisy and suggest that any effect on the frequency of misuse is likely transitory.
No official endorsement by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is intended or should be inferred. This paper has not been subject to the Congressional Budget Office’s regular review and editing process. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Congressional Budget Office. No author reports any conflict of interest or financial support. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.