Analysis: Adult-Use Cannabis Leads to Economic Improvements, More Jobs

Analysis: Adult-Use Cannabis Leads to Economic Improvements, More Jobs
High Times

Opponents of recreational cannabis legalization have argued that increased cannabis use could diminish motivation, impede cognitive function and harm health, ultimately affecting the economic wellbeing of adults. However, an analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds the opposite is true: Legalization of adult-use cannabis is actually associated with economic improvements and increased job opportunities. Researchers at San Diego State University and Bentley University performed the study, which they said is the first to explore the impacts of recreational cannabis laws on employment, wages and labor market outcomes of working-age individuals. They used data from the 2002-2020 Current Population Survey Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups, along with various difference-in-difference approaches including TWFE and Callaway and Sant’Anna estimators. Ultimately, the researchers said they found “little evidence that RMLs [recreational marijuana laws] adversely affect labor market outcomes among most working-age individuals.” Rather, they found evidence of “modest increases” in employment and wages, especially among those over the age of 30 (often shorter-run gains), younger racial/ethnic minorities and those working within the agricultural sector.  “These results are consistent with the opening of a new licit industry for marijuana and (especially for older individuals) a substitution away from harder substances such as opioids,” researchers said. The working paper’s introduction begins with two contrasting quotes from Elon Musk and Seth Rogan—Musk’s quote, “I’m not a regular smoker of weed … I don’t find that it is very good for productivity,” and Rogan’s, “I smoke a lot of weed when I write.” The paper’s focus was not on cannabis and productivity among individuals, though a number of recent studies have explored that question with conflicting results. One 2022 study concluded cannabis use has no effect on motivation, though a 2016 study suggested improved performance and cognitive function for cannabis users. Others have concluded cannabis use could…

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