Innovation is the key to economic growth. After all, innovation is what drives the progress of humanity as a whole. Today, many countries and regions are trying to become the new hub of innovation. However, economic initiatives like public grants and R&D tax credits don’t seem to work. Why is this the case? A recent study suggests that we might need to look at the problem from a completely different angle. Economic incentives are not enough to generate a higher innovation output. Social policies are just as important.
According to the study, the implementation of liberal social policies, like the legalization of medical marijuana, results in higher innovation rates on state-level.
The Relationship Between Medical Marijuana And Innovation
Does the legal status of medical marijuana have a positive impact on innovation? A recent study published in the Journal of Strategic Management suggests it does. Two researchers, Keyvan Vakili and Laurina Zhang have investigated the impact of three different social policies on the rates of innovation on state-level. Two of these social policies were liberal – the legalization of medical marijuana and the legalization of same-sex marriages.
The study focuses on the period between 1990 and 2007. During this time, 11 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana. To determine the rates of innovation, the researchers have measured the number of patents granted in each U.S. state. The results are quite clear: the states that have adopted more liberal social policies have seen a higher patenting rate in the following years.
Liberal Social Policies Lead To More Diverse Collaborations
The research indicates that people who live in regions with laxer social policies tend to have more diverse social connections. Why is this the case? First of all, the implementation of more liberal policies tends to have an impact on public opinion. As the public becomes more accepting towards these issues like medical marijuana, people become more open towards diverse social interactions.
As a result, we see more diverse collaborations among inventors in regions with laxer social policies. It is a known fact that diverse teams tend to achieve better results. When people work in diverse teams, they tend to be exposed to a more diverse set of ideas. Innovation happens when previously disconnected ideas are combined wrote Vakili and Zhang. Therefore, diverse collaborations lead to higher levels of innovation.
The data collected by Vakili and Zhang seems to confirm this hypothesis. States that have legalized medical marijuana and same-sex marriages have seen the innovation output rise by 5 or 6 percent.
The complete study, “High on creativity: The impact of social liberalization policies on innovation,” is available on Wiley Online Library.
The Legal Status Of Marijuana In The U.S.
Today, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and Washington D.C. Medical marijuana with low THC contents is legal in 17 other states. Furthermore, 9 states have allowed the recreational use of marijuana. Finally, the possession is decriminalized in 13 other states. As you can see, the regulations vary widely from state to state.
However, marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law. It is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Hence, the federal law prohibits growing, buying, and using marijuana under any circumstances. Nevertheless, Obama’s administration has established policies that made it possible for individual states to pass their own regulations. These policies also made it possible for businesses related to cannabis to operate without concern.
Donald Trump’s administration, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to feel the same way. Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to revoke the Obama-era policy that shielded legalized marijuana from federal intervention.