Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Derek Kellenberg

Commitee Members

Jeff Bookwalter, Sophia Newcomer


drug policy, econometrics, medical marijuana, opioids, doctor shopping


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Econometrics | Health Economics


The introduction and subsequent over-prescribing of extended-release opioids in the United States resulted in a large rise in both addiction and overdose. Recognition and regulation of these new drugs as addictive did little to control the supply of opioids to Americans while Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and Abuse Deterrent reformulations had limited effect to control the problem. Simultaneously, states like Michigan and Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana through voter referenda opening the door for a new approach to pain management. Recent research has found medical marijuana has proven an effective treatment for conditions such as chronic pain and PTSD and could serve as a substitute to extended-release opioids for pain management. Leveraging ARCOS data and controlling for cross-border transaction cost measured as distance to state borders and legal jurisdictions, this study uses a novel identification method and variable set to explore what effect medical marijuana had on opioid use. This analysis finds that medical marijuana is associated with higher opioid use in states that pass such laws and lower use in neighboring states along the shared border. This result highlights both the endogeneity that plagues analysis of addictive substances which likely explains the first result, and the importance of defining new measures to better understand the true nature of the complex decision to use these substances.



© Copyright 2020 Jonathon David Knudson