OCT 20, 2023 9:00 AM PDT

Study Finds Association between Socioeconomic and Racial Disparities and Cannabis Dispensary Availability

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study published in BMC Public Health examined racial and socioeconomic disparities in available medical cannabis services in New York State. The researchers from Yale School of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine analyzed census data for different regions of New York State. They anticipated that New York census tracts with minority residents, higher income levels, higher educational achievement, and greater urbanicity would have better access to quality medical cannabis services.

The researchers analyzed data from the 2018 US Census Bureau 5-year American Community Survey and New York Medical Marijuana Program. They focused on specific census tract characteristics, including urban–rural classification, percentage of minority residents, median household income, and educational attainment levels.

Census tracts with dispensaries tended to have more residents with some college education. These tracts reflected a population that earned a bachelor’s degree or higher (43.7%) compared to urban areas (34.1%). 1,073 (22.1%) of the 4,858 New York census tracts had licensed medical cannabis providers, and 37 (0.8%) had retail operations or dispensaries. The study showed medical cannabis services were not as accessible in neighborhoods with higher percentages of African-American residents. Urban areas with highly educated residents had a higher concentration of cannabis services.

Examination of the New York Medical Marijuana Program indicated that certifying medical cannabis providers are less likely to be located in neighborhoods with high percentages of African-American residents and more likely to be found in urban communities with highly educated residents.

The cross-sectional study also indicated that most of the 2,224 certifying providers with New York addresses were physicians (60.4% MDs, 6.7% DOs) or nurse practitioners (29.5%). They included the following specialties: family medicine (20.8%), general internal medicine (19.1%), psychiatry (12.3%), pain medicine (10.8%), neurology (8.1%), anesthesiology (4.7%), and physical medicine and rehabilitation (4.8%).

Many cannabis industry leaders believe that cannabis businesses can help address racial and economic equity, so they advocate for businesses and community leaders to shape policy that will provide greater medical cannabis accessibility and cannabis economic development programs to a broader range of communities.

Source: BMC Public Health



About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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