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Can medical marijuana stem increases in drug related death-rates: a time-series cross-section analysis

Heaghney, Nicholas (2017) Can medical marijuana stem increases in drug related death-rates: a time-series cross-section analysis. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Opioid and heroin use has increased dramatically over the past two decades. This issue has public health significance as overdose rates and usage rates of these drugs have never been higher. This increase in use has been driven primarily by availability. The population considered most at risk for opioid/heroin abuse is young, white males. There is a significant comorbidity in opioids and alcohol and alcohol abuse has increased among this young white male population as well. There is evidence that the presence of medical marijuana in states is associated with lower rates of overdose from opioids and heroin. There is also evidence that marijuana acts as a substitute for alcohol in places where it is legal. The objective of this study is to look at the association between overdose rates by state, related to opioids, heroin or alcohol and the presence of medical marijuana in those states. We want to evaluate how state policies, like the presence of prescription drug monitoring programs, as well as socio-economic factors affect the rate of these deaths. Fixed-effect linear models were fit in order to do primary and secondary analyses of medical marijuana’s effects on overdose deaths.
Medical marijuana was found to have a positive effect on the rates of overdoses related to opioids, heroin or alcohol. A secondary analysis showed a negative cumulative year effect. This suggests that overdose rates are initially higher in places that have legalized medical marijuana but that as time passes overdose rates fall. The actual magnitude of the effects of medical marijuana is small when compared to our socio-economic covariates. These results suggest that marijuana policy, while potentially useful in combating this drug epidemic, is less important than socio-economic factors in curbing overdose deaths.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Heaghney, Nicholasheaghneyn@gmail.comnwh7
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorBuchanich,
Committee MemberYouk,
Committee MemberVan Nostrand,
Date: 24 February 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 December 2016
Approval Date: 24 February 2017
Submission Date: 14 December 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 47
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Biostatistics
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Time-series, Cross-section, fixed-effects, opioids, heroin, alcohol, overdose
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2017 19:05
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2017 06:15


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