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A new analysis finds that while marijuana legalization has led to higher rates of cannabis consumption in Colorado and other states with similar laws, there's no evidence that it's fueling abuse of more addictive drugs, including heroin and cocaine.
That's the conclusion of a just-issued report from LiveStories, which specializes in the analysis of civic data. LiveStories founder Adnan Mahmud summarizes the results like so: "We haven't found any strong correlation that suggests increased marijuana use leads to increases in other substance abuse."
Mahmud stresses, "We weren't looking for causation," as a scientific study might. "We were looking for a correlation. And we didn't find that was the case."
LiveStories is "the Bloomberg for civic data," Mahmud maintains. "We collect data about how people live: everything from the unemployment rate to income to rents to cancer rates to graduation rates — all the data we can find about quality of life. Then we bring it together and analyze it in connection to different topics. Last year, we did a massive analysis of the gender-pay gap around the country in different cities and looked at the opioid epidemic. And for this report, we decided to take a deep dive into marijuana legalization."
Specifically, the analysis looked at data from Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, all of which have legalized limited recreational marijuana sales, and then compared it to national averages. Data for the states was drawn from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Heath, and other sources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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