Governments worldwide are increasingly concerned about the booming use of CBD (cannabidiol) products. However, we know little about the impact of their liberalization. We study a unique case of unintended liberalization of a CBD-based product(light cannabis) that occurred in Italy in 2017. Using unique and high-frequency data on prescription drug sales and by exploiting the staggered local availability of the new product in each Italian province, we document a significant substitution effect between light cannabis and anxiolytics, sedatives, opioids, anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. Results are informative for regulators and suggest that bans on light cannabis use would disregard the needs of patients to seek effective reliefs of their symptoms.

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Journal of Health Economics
Department of Applied Economics

Principe, F., Carrieri, V., & Madio, L. (2020). Do-It-Yourself medicine? The impact of light cannabis liberalization on prescription drugs. Journal of Health Economics. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2020.102371