January 2012

No. 6280: High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide

published as 'Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicides by Gender and Age' in: American Journal of Public Health, 2014, 104 (12), 2369-2376

Using state-level data for the period 1990 through 2007, we estimate the effect of legalizing medical marijuana on suicide rates. Our results suggest that the passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males. Estimates of the relationship between legalization and female suicides are less precise and are sensitive to functional form.