State-level medical marijuana laws, marijuana use and perceived availability of marijuana among the general U.S. population

Silvia S. Martins, Christine M. Mauro, Julian Santaella-Tenorio, June H. Kim, Magdalena Cerda, Katherine M. Keyes, Deborah S. Hasin, Sandro Galea, Melanie Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Background Little is known on how perceived availability of marijuana is associated with medical marijuana laws. We examined the relationship between medical marijuana laws (MML) and the prevalence of past-month marijuana use, with perceived availability of marijuana. Methods Data were from respondents included in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health restricted use data portal 2004–2013. Multilevel logistic regression of individual-level data was used to test differences between MML and non-MML states and changes in prevalence of past-month marijuana use and perceived availability from before to after passage of MML among adolescents, young adults and older adults controlling for demographics. Results Among adults 26+, past-month prevalence of marijuana use increased from 5.87% to 7.15% after MML passage (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR): 1.24 [1.16–1.31]), but no change in prevalence of use was found for 12–17 or 18–25 year-olds. Perceived availability of marijuana increased after MML was enacted among those 26+ but not in younger groups. Among all age groups, prevalence of marijuana use and perception of it being easily available was higher in states that would eventually pass MML by 2013 compared to those that had not. Perceived availability was significantly associated with increased risk of past-month marijuana use in all age groups. Conclusion Evidence suggests perceived availability as a driver of change in use of marijuana due to MML. To date, this has only occurred in adults 26+ and different scenarios that could explain this change need to be further explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Availability
  • Cannabis
  • Marijuana use
  • Medical marijuana laws

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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