Opioid abuse continues to be an increasing problem in the United States. The recent epidemic is in direct proportion to the ever-increasing millions of Americans who suffer from pain. Twenty three states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia currently have medical marijuana laws. My theory suggests that there is a high potential for substitution of opiates to marijuana as legalization continues to take place. I tested treatment admissions for a variety of drugs in every state between 2010-2013 based on how many years they have had an MML and on various demographic variables. My goal was to analyze and determine whether there is evidence of substitution from painkillers, simultaneous diminishing of other drug abuse, or if marijuana was more likely to be a gateway to make opioid, and other drug abuse, worse. The results largely depended on demographics and I found that women, older men and women, and white men and women are more likely to struggle with increases in treatment admissions when marijuana is legalized. The results do, however, suggest that substitution does take place in relation to other drugs. Since the earliest law was enacted only twenty years ago, I suggest continued analysis for more conclusive results.


Burnell, Barbara




Behavioral Economics | Economic Theory | Health Economics | Political Economy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Kathleen J. Glowacki