Study: Can Medical Cannabis Laws Improve Health and Reduce Alcohol Use?
Specific groups of people seem to especially benefit the most from legislation to legalize access to marijuana for medical purposes, a new study reports. “The results suggest that a [medical marijuana law] and protected dispensaries improved self-reported health among several demographic groups, such as individuals with only a high school degree and non-whites, and especially among people with chronic pain,” the paper states. One change in behavior the researchers observed was “large reductions in alcohol consumption after the implementation of a medical marijuana law.” Additionally, the health gains were greater in states that approved medical cannabis and allowed people to easily obtain the product they need from legal dispensaries as opposed to those that merely passed a law legalizing medical marijuana without taking steps to ensure access for patients. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania used data taken between 1993 and 2016 from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a national survey conducted by state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in which approximately 300,000 people participate annually. They focused on aspects of self-reported health status: whether one reports being in “very good or better health” or “excellent health,” the number of days an individual doesn’t…
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