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State Recreational Marijuana Laws and Dispensaries: Chronic School Absenteeism in Washington State

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Objective: Whereas states continue to experiment with liberalized marijuana laws, how these laws impact health, education, and social factors is not yet fully understood. In this study, we examined whether chronic school absenteeism rates changed in Washington State in the presence of recreational marijuana dispensaries pursuant to implementation of the state's recreational marijuana laws. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis using school district chronic absenteeism rates before and after the presence of recreational dispensaries. Results: The results of the independent samples t-test showed no statistically significant difference in chronic absenteeism rates among districts with or without recreational marijuana dispensaries. Conclusions: The finding of no statistical significance for chronic absenteeism in districts with and without recreational dispensaries – a pattern that largely persisted among at-risk groups – supports that the presence of recreational marijuana dispensaries seems neither to exacerbate nor improve chronic school absenteeism rates. This finding is important for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers trying to understand the changing marijuana legal landscape.
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Keywords: CANNABIS; CHRONIC SCHOOL ABSENTEEISM; DRUG USE; PUBLIC HEALTH; RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA; SCHOOL HEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2021

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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