Background: Within the United States (US), because racial/ethnic disparities in cannabis arrests continue, and cannabis legalization is expanding, understanding disparities in availability of legal cannabis services is important. Few studies report mixed findings regarding disparities in availability of legal cannabis services; none examined New York. We examined disparities in availability of medical cannabis services in New York. We hypothesized that New York census tracts with few Black or Hispanic residents, high incomes, high education levels, and greater urbanicity would have more medical cannabis services. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we used data from the 2018 US Census Bureau 5-year American Community Survey and New York Medical Marijuana Program. Main exposures were census tract characteristics, including urban–rural classification, percentage of Black and Hispanic residents, percentage of residents with bachelor’s degrees or higher, and median household income. Main outcomes were presence of at least one medical cannabis certifying provider and dispensary in each census tract. To compare census tracts’ characteristics with (vs. without) certifying providers and dispensaries, we used chi-square tests and t-tests. To examine characteristics independently associated with (vs. without) certifying providers, we used multivariable logistic regression. Results: Of 4858 New York census tracts, 1073 (22.1%) had medical cannabis certifying providers and 37 (0.8%) had dispensaries. Compared to urban census tracts, suburban census tracts were 62% less likely to have at least one certifying provider (aOR = 0.38; 95% CI = 0.25–0.57). For every 10% increase in the proportion of Black residents, a census tract was 5% less likely to have at least one certifying provider (aOR = 0.95; 95% CI = 0.92–0.99). For every 10% increase in the proportion of residents with bachelor’s degrees or higher, a census tract was 30% more likely to have at least one certifying provider (aOR = 1.30; 95% CI = 1.21–1.38). Census tracts with (vs. without) dispensaries were more likely to have a higher percentage of residents with bachelor’s degrees or higher (43.7% vs. 34.1%, p < 0.005). Conclusions: In New York, medical cannabis services are least available in neighborhoods with Black residents and most available in urban neighborhoods with highly educated residents. Benefits of legal cannabis must be shared by communities disproportionately harmed by illegal cannabis.
- Availability of legal cannabis
- Census tract
- Medical cannabis
- New York
- Racial and ethnic disparities
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health