Graduation Year

Fall 2010

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

David Bjerk


The debate surrounding marijuana legalization has increased its popularity in recent years, as the state of California seriously considers the complete legalization of the substance for those ages 21 and over. This would make California the first government in recorded history to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana on a commercial level. Advocates back the economic positives concerning high tax revenues, but those opposed argue that the dangers associated with public health greatly outweigh any monetary gain. The present study attempts to reveal the possible public health concerns, even potential benefits, caused by marijuana use and its distribution. Specifically, measures of California’s Medical Marijuana Program will be assessed on the total number of drug treatment admissions in each county, taking into account treatment type and which type of drug is primarily responsible for said admissions. Findings reveal influences by both gateway and substitution effects, creating both positive and negative correlations throughout the field of public health. The influences of intangible variables, like that of the black market, make the results difficult to generalize. However, significant correlations can be found among specific health factors, like Heroin use, Crack/Cocaine use, and Residential Treatment.