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Marijuana Research Grows Alongside Legal Use of Drug

Marijuana is quickly becoming a legal multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States, prompting new research into multiple aspects of the drug, including both use and production.

In fact, the use of medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. And, eight states have passed laws allowing for the legal use of marijuana recreationally. Michigan could become the ninth later this year, where the city of Detroit already allows the sale of marijuana in stores with proper licensing.

“This is obviously an ongoing controversy and there is widespread debate over the use medical marijuana when it comes to the spillover effects of a medical marijuana law adoption,” said Yajuan Li of Texas A&M University.

Benjamin Schwab, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University sat down with Inside Counsel in an exclusive interview. Li and Schwab both presented research on marijuana during the 2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago earlier this week. Li’s paper, “Investigating the Effects of the Medical Marijuana Law on High School Graduation,” looks at the high school graduation rates at the state level from 1993 to 2014, and compares states with and without medical marijuana laws both pre-and-post adoption.

“We wanted to show people in other states the particular impact as they debate whether to pass a medical marijuana law,” he said. “This is something for our policy makers to think about.”

There are also various laws about growing cannabis, which has turned into a cash crops in states like California. Schwab looks at the results and impact of two decades of growth in his paper: “Green Acres? Cannabis Agriculture and Rural Land Values in Northern California.”

“New policy impacts the production of cannabis when it comes to land value,” Schwab explained. “If you make a piece of land eligible to grow cannabis or increase the amount of cannabis that you can legally grow on it, it increases the value of that land.” But the financial impact isn’t the only thing to consider in California and beyond.

California’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), which went into effect on January 2016, defined a regulatory framework for medical cannabis in California that, among many other provisions, allowed for local governments to establish land use regulations defining a permitting process for cannabis production. Humboldt County, in Northern California, was the first county to enact such a process under the Commercial Marijuana Land Use Ordinance (CMMLUO).  According to Schwab, this ordinance delineated criteria that a parcel must meet in order to be eligible for a cannabis production permit. 

“Our results indicate that subsequent to the passage of the ordinance, undeveloped parcels that met the eligibility criteria had relatively higher sale prices than parcels that did not. We also found that property values in areas with high cannabis density increased following a 2008 court decision in California that relaxed restrictions on the number of plants that could be grown for personal use,” said Schwab. “These findings suggest that policy changes that make it easier to legally grow cannabis are indeed priced into the market for land in Northern California.”

By comparing the high school graduation rates between states with and without medical marijuana laws both pre-and-post adoption (spanning from 1993 to 2014), Schwab and Li found that medical marijuana laws decrease high school graduation rates by 0.36 percentage point.

Contributing Author

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Amanda Ciccatelli

Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Freelance Journalist for InsideCounsel, where she covers intellectual property, legal technology, patent litigation, cybersecurity, innovation, and more. She earned a B.A....

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