The density of licensed marijuana outlets in Los Angeles County is associated with more and higher use among young adults, according to a study released Wednesday by a Santa Monica-based think tank.
The RAND Corp. study found that a higher density of licensed marijuana outlets was “significantly associated” with an increased likelihood of past-month marijuana use, increased likelihood of past-month daily or near-daily use and stronger intentions to use marijuana in the next six months.
Higher density of unlicensed outlets, meanwhile, was significantly associated with an increased likelihood of past-month daily or near-daily use, and for those with past year-use, greater quantity consumed and more symptoms of cannabis use disorder, according to RAND researchers.
“Efforts to regulate unlicensed retailers and reduce the density of marijuana retailers may be important factors to be considered when developing strategies to mitigate potential public health harms from expanded legal access to marijuana,” said Eric Pederson, the study’s lead author.
The researchers used geocoding techniques and multiple data sources about marijuana businesses to determine the density of licensed and unlicensed marijuana retailers within four miles of the study participants’ homes.
The study, study, published in The American Journal on Addictions, is based on surveys of nearly 1,100 young adults 21 and older from Los Angeles County who were asked about their marijuana use a year apart — before and after marijuana became available in January 2018 for purchase for recreational use in California.
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