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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins: Medical Marijuana Laws Linked to Health and Labor Supply Benefits in Older Adults

A study that examined older Americans’ well-being before and after medical marijuana laws were passed in their state found reductions in reported pain and increased hours worked. The study, co-written by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Temple University, suggests medical marijuana laws could be improving older Americans’ health.

The paper analyzed more than 100,000 responses from survey participants age 51 and older from 1992 to 2012. Researchers found a 4.8 percent decrease in reported pain and a 6.6 percent increase in reported very good or excellent health among respondents with a health condition that would qualify for medical marijuana after their states passed medical marijuana laws relative to similar respondents whose states did not pass a law.

The study appears in the Spring 2019 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

“Our study is important because of the limited availability of clinical trial data on the effects of medical marijuana,” says Dr. Lauren Hersch Nicholas, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School Department of Health Policy and Management. “While several studies point to improved pain control with medical marijuana, research has largely ignored older adults even though they experience the highest rates of medical issues that could be treated with medical marijuana.”

For their study, researchers used data from the 1992-2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the largest nationally representative survey to have tracked health and labor market outcomes among older Americans.

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