Temporal trends in marijuana attitudes, availability and use in Colorado compared to non-medical marijuana states: 2003-11

Joseph Schuermeyer, Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, Rumi Kato Price, Sundari Balan, Christian Thurstone, Sung Joon Min, Joseph T. Sakai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


Background: In 2009, policy changes were accompanied by a rapid increase in the number of medical marijuana cardholders in Colorado. Little published epidemiological work has tracked changes in the state around this time. Methods: Using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we tested for temporal changes in marijuana attitudes and marijuana-use-related outcomes in Colorado (2003-11) and differences within-year between Colorado and thirty-four non-medical-marijuana states (NMMS). Using regression analyses, we further tested whether patterns seen in Colorado prior to (2006-8) and during (2009-11) marijuana commercialization differed from patterns in NMMS while controlling for demographics. Results: Within Colorado those reporting "great-risk" to using marijuana 1-2 times/week dropped significantly in all age groups studied between 2007-8 and 2010-11 (e.g. from 45% to 31% among those 26 years and older; p= 0.0006). By 2010-11 past-year marijuana abuse/dependence had become more prevalent in Colorado for 12-17 year olds (5% in Colorado, 3% in NMMS; p= 0.03) and 18-25 year olds (9% vs. 5%; p= 0.02). Regressions demonstrated significantly greater reductions in perceived risk (12-17 year olds, p= 0.005; those 26 years and older, p= 0.01), and trend for difference in changes in availability among those 26 years and older and marijuana abuse/dependence among 12-17 year olds in Colorado compared to NMMS in more recent years (2009-11 vs. 2006-8). Conclusions: Our results show that commercialization of marijuana in Colorado has been associated with lower risk perception. Evidence is suggestive for marijuana abuse/dependence. Analyses including subsequent years 2012+ once available, will help determine whether such changes represent momentary vs. sustained effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Cannabis
  • Decriminalization
  • Legalized marijuana
  • Marijuana policy
  • Medical marijuana


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