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Marijuana and the U.S. Navy: The Impact of Changing Laws, Attitudes and Behavior on Recruiting

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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While marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal regulations, 28 states have legalized it in some form. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navys Zero Tolerance policy and the Department of Defense drug testing program have become stricter. As marijuana becomes more popular, the Navy faces a recruiting challenge. This thesis analyzes the generational shift of perception toward marijuana legalization and the impact of legalization on military accessions and marijuana waivers granted in the U.S. Navy. I utilize a difference-in-difference DID framework with accession data from Naval Recruiting Command to study these issues. On a basic level, the DID framework compares total number of marijuana waivers and accessions in states where marijuana has been legalized with those states where it is not legal, over time. The data I use includes the total number of U.S. Navy accessions and marijuana waivers granted in each of the 50 states and U.S. territories from October 2010 until January 2017. I find that state marijuana legalization leads to a decrease of 0.2 waivers granted per month in the most robust model i.e., when comparing states that have legalized marijuana to those that have not while controlling for state and time fixed effects. In addition, the estimates suggest legalization increases the total number of recruits by 4.9 per month in a similar framework. Both of these results were statistically significant at the standard 5 percent level.

Subject Categories:

  • Biology
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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