New Research Fails to Show Link Between Marijuana, Suicide, and Mental Illness

By Jeffrey Singer — Nov 01, 2021
Does marijuana use affect mental health? Cato Institute's Dr. Jeffrey Singer and colleagues address just this in a new pre-print of a paper that is undergoing peer review. The preprint can be read on the medRxiv site.
Cannabis sativa Photo: Wikimedia

In response to claims by some critics of marijuana legalization that regular use might increase the risk of mental illness or suicide, my colleagues and I sought to determine if 2013 research by Anderson, et al finding no such relationship in states that had legalized medicinal marijuana was still valid in 2021, by which time 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use and medicinal marijuana is available in 35 states. We performed a state-level longitudinal analysis using suicide rates from the National Center for Health Statistics and mental health morbidity rates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health following the procedures outlined by Anderson et al. 

We found that recreational marijuana access was associated with a 6.29 percent reduction in suicide rates for males aged 40 to 49, but no other mental health outcomes were otherwise affected by liberalization of marijuana laws. 

The “pre-print” of our study is now available for viewing at medRxiv. It is currently awaiting peer review for publication in a major scientific journal.