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Presence of Marijuana Dispensaries Appears to Influence Young Adults

June 21, 2019

A young adult's proximity to the location of medical marijuana dispensaries appears to be associated with a higher likelihood of marijuana use, with storefront advertising having the strongest influence on behavior. A RAND Corporation study examining trends in Los Angeles County drew this conclusion and is published online in the journal Addiction.

RAND researchers analyzed results from nearly 1,900 individuals ages 18 to 22 who are part of an ongoing project examining substance use risk factors. Nearly 85% of the subjects live within four miles of at least 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County. The researchers found that living near more dispensaries was associated with using marijuana on more days and having higher positive expectations about the drug.

Living near more dispensaries that had storefront signage was associated with an effect on these variables that was four to six times larger, the researchers reported.

“Our findings suggest that as the marijuana retail outlets become more visible and more numerous, they may influence the way that young adults perceive and use marijuana,” study lead author Regina Shih, a RAND senior behavioral scientist, said in a news release.

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