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.

Light cannabis, Self-Medication, Marijuana, Difference-In-Difference, Prescription drugs, CBD
Government Expenditures and Health (jel H51), State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare (jel H75), Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health (jel I18), Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law (jel K32), Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law (jel K42),
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