A new report outlines how marijuana dispensary density and neighborhood ecology impact marijuana abuse and dependence.

Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a new study revealed that places with more cannabis dispensaries have more marijuana-related hospitalizations.

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According to the report, hospitalizations with marijuana abuse or dependence codes increased more than 292.6% from 2001 to 2012. More than 85% of marijuana-related hospitalizations were coded as abuse. Researchers also found that 99.2% were secondary codes (meaning a patient was primarily hospitalized for something other than the marijuana-related incident).

Researchers analyzed data on “California hospital discharges that had either a primary or secondary medical code for marijuana dependence or abuse with at least one overnight hospital stay.”

The study also found that medical marijuana dispensaries and hospitalizations were more likely to be located in low-income neighborhoods.

“Our study indicates that there are real problems associated with a higher density of marijuana dispensaries in neighborhoods,” lead author Christina Mair, PhD, assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, said in a statement. “More study and monitoring, coupled with thoughtful legislation and community discussion, will be prudent to ensure that marijuana laws have the fewest negative consequences for vulnerable populations.”


1. Mair C, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.06.019.