The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Donahue Institute

2018 Publication Archive

Marijuana Baseline Health Study Report of Findings

From the executive summary:

The purpose of this report is to provide a summary report of findings from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Marijuana Baseline Health Study (MBHS) describing the (i) Patterns of use, methods of consumption, and general perceptions of marijuana; (ii) Incidents of impaired driving and hospitalization related to marijuana use; and (ii) Economic and fiscal impacts for state and local governments.


(i) Patterns of Use and Perceptions of Marijuana

  • A survey of adults in Massachusetts suggests that approximately 21% of adults have used marijuana in the past 30 days. The proportion of marijuana use was highest among those 18-25 years old. Smoking is the most common method of marijuana consumption, although more than 40% of marijuana users report using multiple methods of use. More than half of adults perceive marijuana to have slight or no risks, and use marijuana for nonmedical purposes.
  • A survey of patients who use marijuana products for therapeutic use suggests these individuals use marijuana treatments for approximately 24 days a month, with the majority or respondents using a marijuana product for at least 21 out of the past 30 days. On average, respondents spend at least $246.00 on marijuana each month, and use at least 3 different modes of use. The most common method of marijuana administration is smoking (combusting) dried flower (65%), followed by vaporizing marijuana concentrate (62%) and eating marijuana products (51%).

(ii) Incidents of Impaired Driving and Hospitalization

  • Tools to reliably ascertain levels of marijuana exposure and impairment in the field do not currently exist. Marijuana has cognitive and behavior effects in the areas of automative behavior (i.e., well-learned skills), and executive function impacts (i.e., how the user interacts with traffic). These effects have not been reliably linked to a level of marijuana or THC in the body.
  • In a survey of Massachusetts residents, among respondents that use marijuana, the prevalence of self-reported driving under the influence is 34.3%. Overall, 7.2% of the adult population drove under the influence of marijuana in the past 30 days, and 11.3% of adults rode with a marijuana-using driver in the past 30 days. This is similar to estimates from a survey of medical marijuana patients that found approximately 10% of respondents drove under the influence in the past 30 days.
  • Retrospective evaluations of fatal crash data suggest that drivers who died in a fatal crash are much more likely to have had their blood tested for marijuana, than drivers who survived a crash in which there was at least one fatality. Marijuana-related treatment is a small portion of the overall volume of substance use disorder treatment episodes. In a statewide-survey of Massachusetts, no respondents reported marijuana-related use of emergency room or urgent care facilities. The number of marijuana-related calls to the Regional Poison Control Center in Massachusetts has been increasing over time. The calls include incidents of unintentional exposures among children, with the majority of calls related to 10-19 year old individuals, and/or exposure to dried marijuana flower. The proportion of calls increased after medical marijuana was available in the Commonwealth.

(iii) Economic and Fiscal Impacts for State and Local Governments

  • Economic projections suggest that marijuana will increase Massachusetts state revenue by about $215.8 million in the first two years of retail sales. The increase will largely come from sales and excise taxes collected on retail purchases. Based on experiences from states with existing legalized adult use, sales tax revenue will be higher in the second year ($154.2 million), as compared to the first year ($61.6 million). Economic projections of the impacts to local government, suggest that local tax revenue over the first two years of retail sale are projected to be highest in the most densely populated regions (ranging from $233,498 to $2,875,048), with considerable fluctuation in two-year revenue projections among high-density suburban cities and towns (ranging from $68,139 to $991,873, over the two year period).

Read the report. 


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