We studied the effect of marijuana liberalization policies on perinatal health with a multiperiod difference-in-differences estimator that exploited variation in effective dates of medical marijuana laws (MML) and recreational marijuana laws (RML). We found that the proportion of maternal hospitalizations with marijuana use disorder increased by 23% (0.3 percentage points) in the first three years after RML implementation, with larger effects in states authorizing commercial sales of marijuana. This growth was accompanied by a 7% (0.4 percentage points) decline in tobacco use disorder hospitalizations, yielding a net zero effect over all substance use disorder hospitalizations. RMLs were not associated with statistically significant changes in newborn health. MMLs had no statistically significant effect on maternal substance use disorder hospitalizations nor on newborn health and fairly small effects could be ruled out. In absolute numbers, our findings implied modest or no adverse effects of marijuana liberalization policies on the array of perinatal outcomes considered.
Marijuana liberalization policies and perinatal health