Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


Samara Gunter

Second Advisor

Randy Nelson


Since 1996, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Some opponents of medical marijuana claim that medical marijuana is diverted for illicit consumption. I use data from the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health to determine the effect of medical marijuana legalization on the consumption of marijuana and other substances. The results indicate that medical marijuana has a statistically significant effect on first time marijuana use and past month use, but not on past year use. Although the consumption data do not differentiate between licit (medical) and illicit marijuana consumption, most states maintain medical marijuana registries, and some of them were gracious enough to provide me with data on the number of patients. Using this data, I estimate the illicit component of the change in marijuana use to be over 60% of the total change in marijuana consumption. My results also confirm prior studies' findings of a substitution effect between alcohol and marijuana.


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drug legalization, recreational drug use, statistics

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