Study: Passage Of Medical Marijuana Laws Correlated With Fewer Suicides

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 21, 2012

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

    The enactment of statewide laws allowing for the limited use of cannabis therapeutically is associated with reduced instances of suicide, according to a discussion paper published recently by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany.

    Researchers at Montana State University, the University of Colorado, and San Diego State University assessed rates of suicide in the years before and after the passage of statewide medical marijuana laws.

    Authors found, “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.

    They reported 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 percent 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,” they determined.

    Authors theorized that the 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.” They further speculated, “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.”

    They 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.”

    Full text of the discussion paper, “High on Life: Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide,” is available online here.

    41 responses to “Study: Passage Of Medical Marijuana Laws Correlated With Fewer Suicides”

    1. fishcreekbob says:

      Yeah but how do you get them to see.

    2. Mike says:

      I think about Suicide actually pretty often… I have an easy solution. I smoke a bowl or eat some cookies!! OHIO MML PLEASE

    3. John says:

      Very well written article.

      I thank you Norml, for putting this awareness out there.

      I have 110% beliefs in this article.

      I thank you Norml once again for every written article here at Norml, and with this support that you supply, it does indeed help a lot.


    4. Galileo Galilei says:

      A combination of Asperger’s syndrome and a dysfunctional family lead me to contemplate suicide every day from the 8th grade through my early 20’s.

      I remember one day I woke up in the hippie commune and realized I hadn’t thought about killing myself in 3 whole days–in a row!

      I never realized it might be the marijuana.

    5. Alright. I’m seeing such a positive outcome of cannabis use
      that with all the evidence taken together its just plain
      stupidity ignorance irresponsible behaviour from our
      politicains that continue to disserve us.

    6. Safer than beer says:

      Maybe this is why the “decent folk” don’t want marijuana legalized? They don’t like us and they don’t want anything legalized that might make us live longer. They really are repugnant.

    7. Elkalzon says:

      As much as I would like to believe this, correlation does not equal causation. We cannot be certain that the lower lower rates of suicides in these states are due to the legalization of medical cannabis, despite the seemingly strong connection.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Correct: correlation is not causation and I specifically used the former term in the headline to be clear that the data was establishing a strong association, but not necessarily causation. Nevertheless, the correlation is notable and the study’s authors clearly believe that the liberalization of cannabis is playing a larger role than other potential environmental factors.]

    8. Druk says:

      Could someone explain those charts a little bit better than the pdf explains them?

      If I’m reading it right, it seems to be saying that states that now have Medical Marijuana Laws in place used to have extremely high suicide rates compared to other states.

      [Paul Armentano responds: In fact, the charts state the opposite.]

    9. Fed-Up says:

      fishcreekbob says: “Yeah but how do you get them to see.”

      They already know…they simply don’t care. They care more about their overhead and profits concerning their Prison industrial empire as well as your private property, they could care less about your tranquility and introspection or peace of mind.

      They have built a huge infrastructure of parasitism that generates a cash flow in “their” direction.They look at it like a ‘law of nature” we are the predators and your the game. The illusion of morality is one of their propoganda weapons that they use as a bluff,

      But if they had any morals at all they would look at the overwhelming evidence that shows that cannabis is a multifaceted beneficial herb on so many levels… But, they only see it as a competition with their infrastructures,but it’s really a competition against nature and humanity.

      You would think Congress- with an approval rating of 9 percent and public approval for cannabis legalislation being over 60 % …well,i guess it speaks for itself then.

      VOTE EM OUT,ONE AT A TIME! if its not to late.

    10. If you live in Connecticut and want to end marijuana prohibition in our state, please take a minute to visit http://www.ctprimaryproject.com.

      Please pass this on to anyone you know in Connecticut!