David Ruggeri

Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economics & Finance

First Advisor

Daniel Biederman


Drug use is a public health issue with one-third of the United States population having reported consuming marijuana at some point in their lifetime. This paper examines how the perception of risk (both health and criminal sanctions) affects consumption behavior. This study examined marijuana consumption for the age ranges of 12-17, 18-25, and 26 and older during the years of 1999-2007.

Perceptions of health risk of marijuana vary from by age groups (12-17, 18-25, and 26 years of age and up). Persons age 26 and older perceive the health risks to be the greatest for occasional marijuana consumption, trailed by youth age 12-17, and 18-25 with the lowest perception of health risk. Residing in a medical marijuana state was the strongest single predictor of past month marijuana use. Marijuana possession criminal classification for marijuana possession was the second strongest influencer, marijuana health risk perception was third strongest, residing in a marijuana decriminalized state is fourth, and marijuana price per gram was fifth strongest respectively. Possible maximum monetary fine for marijuana possession was the weakest influencer on past month marijuana consumption with almost zero influence.