Does access to medical marijuana reduce opioid deaths?

Three recent studies support that claim.

In 2014, researchers found that states with any kind of medical marijuana law had a 25 percent lower rate of death from opioid overdoses than other states. The apparent effect grew over time: a 20 percent lower rate of opioid deaths in the laws’ first year, 24 percent in the third, and 33 percent in the sixth, researcher Colleen Barry of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her colleagues reported in JAMA Internal Medicine. In 2010 (the last year for which the researchers had data), there were 1,729 fewer such deaths than expected in medical marijuana states.

A 2015 study drilled down into different aspects of marijuana laws. Medical marijuana dispensaries were associated with a 16 percent (and possibly as high as a 31 percent) decrease in opioid overdose deaths, especially among men, compared to states without dispensaries, said health economist Rosalie Liccardo Pacula of RAND, who led the study, which has been submitted to an economics journal. The decline seemed to be driven by lower rates of illegal opioid use.

Posted in: News

Comments are closed.