Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Lewis Davis


opioids, overdoses, marijuana, recreational marijuana, heroin, difference-in-difference, war on drugs


This study examines how recreational marijuana dispensaries in Colorado affect opioid mortality at the county level. Using a difference-in-difference model with county and year fixed effects, I estimate the impact of recreational marijuana dispensary access on fatal opioid overdoses. Additionally, I employ distance from a major roadway and border as two instrumental variables to help limit the endogeneity associated with the location of dispensaries. Previous studies have shown that medical and recreational marijuana dispensary access decreases opioid mortality at the state level. Still, no study has explored the connection between recreational marijuana dispensaries and overdoses at the county level. Using data from the CDC, Colorado Department of Revenue, US Census, and other sources, I found that under some specifications, one additional dispensary is associated with a 0.0668 to 0.0747 unit decrease in opioid mortality. However, this result was not robust under every specification. Given the worsening opioid crisis in the United States, research into alternate methods of reducing opioid mortality is critical.



Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.