The impact of cannabis access laws on opioid prescribing

J Health Econ. 2020 Jan:69:102273. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2019.102273. Epub 2019 Dec 14.


While recent research has shown that cannabis access laws can reduce the use of prescription opioids, the effect of these laws on opioid use is not well understood for all dimensions of use and for the general United States population. Analyzing a dataset of over 1.5 billion individual opioid prescriptions between 2011 and 2018, which were aggregated to the individual provider-year level, we find that recreational and medical cannabis access laws reduce the number of morphine milligram equivalents prescribed each year by 11.8 and 4.2 percent, respectively. These laws also reduce the total days' supply of opioids prescribed, the total number of patients receiving opioids, and the probability a provider prescribes any opioids net of any offsetting effects. Additionally, we find consistent evidence that cannabis access laws have different effects across types of providers, physician specialties, and payers.

Keywords: Cannabis; Marijuana; Opioids.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid*
  • Cannabis*
  • Controlled Substances
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Controlled Substances