Panel: Assessing the Effects of Making Marijuana More Available
(Crime, Justice, and Drugs)

Saturday, November 10, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
8226 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Angela Hawken, New York University
Discussants:  Mark Kleiman, New York University

The Highs and Lows of Medical Marijuana Legalization
Sanjukta Basu, Siobhan Innes-Gawn and Mary Penn, Tulane University

The rapid change in laws with respect to marijuana in the United States, Uruguay and (shortly) Canada have provided many opportunities for research on the effects of legal change on a variety of behaviors.  While the legalization of recreational use, along with a state sanctioned supply, deservedly gets the principal billing, there have also been other important legislative changes, particularly in the provision of marijuana for medical purposes, that also might affect use of marijuana and other substances as well.  The development of a $10 billion plus legal market, with quirky restrictions on promotion as a result of the continued federal prohibition of the drug, makes this an even more interesting phenomenon to research.


APPAM conferences in recent years have almost always included one or more sessions on how the new laws affect a variety of important outcomes.  Those sessions have become richer as more time has elapsed since the changes were implemented.  The session proposed for this year’s conference extends the research in at least two directions.  Methodologically it includes a discrete choice experiment, a widely used methodology in the drug policy area but rarely represented at APPAM.  Second, it includes research on Uruguay, which is the first nation to adopt an explicit legal regulatory approach to marijuana use.  The session has three diverse papers. 


  1. An analysis of the effect of marijuana legalization on traffic safety in Uruguay. There is a growing literature on the effects of different relaxations of marijuana laws on traffic safety in the United States, taking advantage of differences in state laws.  This adds to that literature by comparing changes over time in Montevideo (Uruguay’s capital) with changes in a number of similar Chilean jurisdictions which did not see any legal shift.
  2. A novel analysis of the effects of changes in potency, price and warning messages on consumer choice. This is the discrete choice experiment, which considers the effects on a sample of users and non-users of variation in offers of marijuana that varies in potency (both THC and CBD) and price.  It also assesses the effects of warning messages about the dangers of marijuana use.
  3. An examination of the effect of medical marijuana dispensaries on the decision to initiate or quit marijuana use. This take advantage of almost the only long-running publicly accessible longitudinal study (NLSY) to move beyond impacts of changes on prevalence to an assessment of the impacts on the dynamics of marijuana use.


The discussant is a prominent scholar on marijuana legalization issues.

See more of: Crime, Justice, and Drugs
See more of: Panel