By Paul Armentano, NORML
The enactment of statewide laws allowing for the therapeutic use of cannabis is associated with reduced instances of suicide, according to a discussion paper published in January by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany.
Researchers at Montana State University, U of Colorado, and San Diego State U assessed rates of suicide in the years before and after the passage of statewide medical use laws.
“The total suicide rate falls smoothly during the pre-legalization period in both MML (medical marijuana law) and non-MML states. However, beginning in year zero, the trends diverge: the suicide rate in MML states continues to fall, while the suicide rate in states that never legalized medical marijuana begins to climb gradually,” wrote the authors.
They determined that this downward trend in suicides in states post-legalization was especially pronounced in males. “Our results suggest that the passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5% reduction in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males. ”
Authors theorize that limited legalization of cannabis may “lead to an improvement in the psychological well-being of young adult males, an improvement that is reflected in fewer suicides,” suggesting that, “The strong association between alcohol consumption and suicide-related outcomes found by previous researchers raises the possibility that medical marijuana laws reduce the risk of suicide by decreasing alcohol consumption. ”
Researchers concluded, “Policymakers weighing the pros and cons of legalization should consider the possibility that medical marijuana laws may lead to fewer suicides among young adult males. ”
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