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CHERE is delighted to welcome Professor Jenny Williams from the University of Melbourne, to present a seminar on the work she has done evaluating the impact of medical marijuana retail dispensaries and laws protecting them on recreational marijuana use. Please email reception@chere.uts.edu.au with any dietary requirements.


Previous research has shown that medical marijuana markets have spill-over effects on recreational markets, increasing the prevalence of use among adults. It remains unclear, however, whether the increase in use reflects a rise in uptake or a decrease in quitting. This paper sheds light on this issue by evaluating the impact of two aspects of medical marijuana markets, retail dispensaries and laws protecting them, on the decision to quit use. Using individual-level longitudinal information on marijuana use, we exploit geographic and temporal variation in the presence of these dimensions of the legal marijuana market to identify their impact on quitting behavior.

Our results reveal important differences across gender and race/ethnicity on how legal retail environment impacts the decision to quit marijuana use. We find little robust evidence that quitting by females is impacted by either the presence or protection of retail medical marijuana dispensaries. While the decision to quit marijuana use by men is sensitive to the presence of operating retail dispensaries, it is the legal protection of these dispensaries that influence minorities more so then their simple presence. This behavior is consistent with racial and ethnic differences in the risks of arrest for simple marijuana offences, particularly for black males.


Jenny Williams is a Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of risky behaviours. She is particularly interested in evaluating the impact of policy on decisions about substance use and crime, as well as understanding how these decisions effect other areas of life, including mental health, work, and schooling. The over-arching aim of Jenny’s research is to understand how decisions and circumstances faced by individuals impact on their life outcomes, with a view to improving outcomes through policy design.

For more information or to register please visit this website.

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