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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Oct 1;143:244-50. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.07.036. Epub 2014 Aug 10.

Examining the relationship between the physical availability of medical marijuana and marijuana use across fifty California cities.

Author information

UCLA Department of Social Welfare, 3250 Public Affairs Building, Box 951656, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656, United States. Electronic address:
Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 180 Grand Ave., Suite 1200, Oakland, CA 94612, United States.



The purpose of the current study is to assess statistical associations between individual demographic and personality characteristics, the city-level physical availability of medical marijuana (as measured through densities per roadway mile of storefront dispensaries and delivery services), and the incidence and prevalence of marijuana use.


Individual level data on marijuana use were collected during a telephone survey of 8853 respondents living in 50 mid-size cities in California. Data on medical marijuana dispensaries and delivery services were obtained via six different websites and official city lists. Three outcome variables pertaining to lifetime, past year use, and frequency of past year use were analyzed using random effects logistic models (for lifetime and past year use) and random effects tobit models (for frequency of past 365-day use).


The current study finds that the total physical availability of medical marijuana through dispensaries and delivery services per roadway mile at the city-level is positively related to current marijuana use and greater frequency of use, controlling for a variety of demographic and personality characteristics. As expected, current physical availability of medical marijuana was unrelated to lifetime use.


Regulations on the number and densities of marijuana outlets may be a sufficient means to restrain overall levels of marijuana use within cities. However, alternative use of delivery services may also provide easy access to marijuana and mitigate these effects.


Cannabis use; Marijuana delivery services; Marijuana use; Medical marijuana dispensaries

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