New Study: States with Legal Medical Marijuana See Reduced Suicide Rate Among Young Men

Legalization associated with nearly 11% drop.

Photo Credit: Atomazul/Shutterstock

A new study has uncovered a strong correlation between reduced instances of suicide among young men and the legalization of marijuana, lending more credence to the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events. 

Researchers used suicide data from the National Vital Statistics System's Mortality Detail Files between 1990-2007, and examined the association between medical marijuana legalization and suicides per 100,000 population. Overall, legalization was associated with a 10.8% reduction in suicide rate of men aged 20 through 29 years and 30 years, respectively. The study couldn't accurately gauge legalization's affects on women's likelihood of committing suicide.

Daniel Reese, a co-author of the study, explained to The Huffington Post that "legalization may reduce suicide among females, but we couldn't find conclusive evidence one way or the other. Females could respond to marijuana differently than males...it's even possible they respond to legalization differently than males." 

Reese also told The Huffington Post that researchers "couldn't distinguish between alcohol or marijuana use in the study," but noted that a 2013 study he also co-authored revealed a link between medical marijuana use and reduction of alcohol use among young adults. 

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, 20 states and Washington DC provide legal protection for seriously ill patients whose doctors recommend medical use of marijuana. As of January 27, nine states have pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana. 

Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
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