State policies will determine whether most Americans smoke marijuana

Date: Oct 31 2016

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Denver — More than 50 percent of Americans changed their minds about intentions to smoke marijuana based on ramifications — or lack thereof — set forth by their state of residency, according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Denver.

Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health  sampled more than 500 people living in five states where marijuana legalization is on voting ballots for 2016 Election Day (Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Florida) or likely will be in coming years (Michigan), asking if people would be influenced to legally buy marijuana based on four factors:

  • the price of a gram of marijuana;
  • whether or not a marijuana smoker could be be arrested for public use;
  • whether or not employers could fire employees for marijuana use away from work; and
  • whether or not a state can maintain records of each marijuana sale.

The data found that these factors influenced most decision-makers. Notably, policies preventing an employer’s ability to fire employees for smoking away from work would increase the number of people who use marijuana by 9 percent. Additionally, a state raising the price of marijuana by $19 would decrease the number of people who use marijuana by around 5 percentage points.

“Legalization isn’t a ‘yes or no’ question,” said lead researcher Mike McLaughlin, a PhD candidate at the Yale School of Public Health. “There are a lot of details that policymakers need to work out if legalization is going to be implemented, and the public should take an active role in shaping legalization measures moving forward. I would encourage individuals to become informed about the details of legalization measures being considered where they live.”

APHA 2016  is themed “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health” and will focus on moving toward health equity, which means we must value all people equally, promote prevention and zero in on the social determinants of health.

3212.0: Design of Marijuana Legalization Policies and Its Impact on Intentions To Use: Evidence From a Choice Experiment
Date: Monday, Oct. 31, 2016
Researcher: Mike McLaughlin, MPH, Yale School of Public Health
Information for media: The APHA Press Office will be located in room 604 of the Colorado Convention Center.

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