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)
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2020.102371, hdl.handle.net/1765/130178
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