Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Marijuana’s Positive Effects on Painkiller Use

According to The Washington Post, a recently-published study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that the Marijuana-vs-pillslegalization of marijuana in Colorado has reversed the trend of increasing deaths caused by Opioid overdose in the state:

While numerous studies have shown an association between medical marijuana legalization and opioid overdose deaths, this report is one of the first to look at the impact of recreational marijuana laws on opioid deaths.

Marijuana is often highly effective at treating the same types of chronic pain that patients are often prescribed opiates for. Given the choice between marijuana and opiates, many patients appear to be opting for the former.

. . .

Overall, after controlling for both medical marijuana and the prescription-drug-monitoring change, the study found that after Colorado implemented its recreational marijuana law, opioid deaths fell by 6.5 percent in the following two years.

The study was conducted over a two-year period after recreational marijuana retailers began operating in Colorado in 2014. Although the study is only preliminary, the results demonstrate that marijuana may be a safer alternative to other pain-relieving drugs that can result in fatal overdose. Opioid-related deaths steadily rose in Colorado since 2000 until the sale of recreational marijuana began in 2014.

Although the correlation is worth looking into—as the fate of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act is being heavily debated—it is important to note that the study does not guarantee the decrease in opioid-related deaths is caused by the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state. The authors also cautioned that “while legal marijuana may reduce opioid deaths it could also be increasing fatalities elsewhere — on Colorado's roads, for instance.” Still, given the positive outlook, states and the federal government should devote more resources to researching marijuana’s positive effects as opposed to other drugs. Hey, even Jeff Sessions somewhat agrees.


--Taylor Wood

Medical Marijuana | Permalink


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