A team of economists’ newly published report in the American Journal of Public Health suggests states that have legalized medical marijuana may see a reduction in suicide rates in young men. The researchers took a close look at state-level suicide data over a 17-year period, from 1990 to 2007, from the National Vital Statistics System’s mortality detail files.
They analyzed data from the 12 states that had legalized medical marijuana during that time and compared it with states that continued to criminalize the drug. In states that had legalized marijuana for medical use, there was a 10.8 percent reduction in the suicide rate of men in their 20s and a 9.4 percent reduction in men in their 30s, the study found.
“The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events,” the authors wrote. “However, this relationship may be explained by alcohol consumption. The mechanism through which legalizing medical marijuana reduces suicides among young men remains a topic for future study.”