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Marijuana Research Grows Alongside Legal Use of Drug

2017 AAEA Annual Meeting features new numbers on both consumption and production

The use of medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

Eight states have passed laws allowing for the legal use of marijuana recreationally. Michigan could become the ninth later this year, where the city of Detroit already allows the sale of marijuana in stores with proper licensing.

Marijuana is quickly becoming a legal multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, prompting new research into multiple aspects of the drug, including both use and production.

“This is obviously an ongoing controversy and there is widespread debate over the use medical marijuana when it comes to the spillover effects of a medical marijuana law adoption,” says Yajuan Li of Texas A&M University.

Li and Ben Schwab of Kansas State University will both present research on marijuana during the 2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago, July 30-August 1.

Li’s paper, “Investigating the Effects of the Medical Marijuana Law on High School Graduation,” looks specifically at the high school graduation rates at the state level from 1993 to 2014, and compares states with and without medical marijuana laws both pre-and-post adoption. The research has a very specific and pointed outcome.

“We wanted to show people in other states the particular impact as they debate whether to pass a medical marijuana law,” Li said. “This is something for our policy makers to think about.”

There are also various laws about growing cannabis, which has turned into a cash crops in states like California. Schwab looks at the results and impact of two decades of growth in his paper: “Green Acres? Cannabis Agriculture and Rural Land Values in Northern California.”

“New policy impacts the production of cannabis when it comes to land value,” Schwab said. “If you make a piece of land eligible to grow cannabis or increase the amount of cannabis that you can legally grow on it, it increases the value of that land.”

But the financial impact isn’t the only thing to consider in California and beyond. For more information on either paper, or to set up an interview, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

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