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Study: Suicide Rates Fell In States Where Medical Marijuana Is Legal

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(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (CBS Seattle/AP) – A recently conducted study indicates a relationship between decreasing suicide rates and the legalization of medical marijuana in some states.

Researchers from the University of Colorado-Denver, Montana State University and San Diego State University found that “[s]uicides among men aged 20 through 39 years fell after medical marijuana legalization compared with those in states that did not legalize.”

An abstract summary of the study, published to the website of the American Journal of Public Health, notes that researchers used suicide data collected between 1990 and 2007 by the National Vital Statistics System’s Mortality Detail Files in order to reach their conclusion.

Information was looked at on a state-by-state basis, allowing those involved in the study to estimate the differences in suicide levels from states where the drug is legal when used for medicinal purposes and states where it is still entirely illegal.

“[L]egalization was associated with a 10.8 percent … reduction in the suicide rate of men aged 20 through 29 years and 30 through 39 years, respectively,” the summary noted. “Estimates for females were less precise and sensitive to model specification.”

In states where the drug is entirely legal, lawmakers are looking for other ways to allow citizens to benefit, especially from sales of pot.

A bill introduced in Olympia would use some of the state’s anticipated legal marijuana taxes to hire police across Washington.

Spokane Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner says his intent is that $25 million a year from pot excise taxes would be used to pay for 250 new law enforcement officers. The way the bill is written would actually allocate four times that amount, but Baumgartner says that’s a drafting error he intends to fix.

The measure, introduced Wednesday, would amend Washington’s legal marijuana law within two years of when voters approved it, and therefore requires a two-thirds majority in the Legislature.

The bill would allocate the money for new officers to cities and counties based on their population, but Baumgartner says he’s open to sending the additional police only to jurisdictions that allow licensed marijuana businesses. A few local governments, including Pierce County, intend to ban them.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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