States that have legalized medical cannabis dispensaries have a lower rate of opioid addictions and overdose deaths, according to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
For the study, researchers at the RAND Corporation and the University of California assessed the impact of medical cannabis laws on opioid abuse. They did this by measuring treatment admissions for opioid pain reliever addiction, and by assessing state-level opioid overdose deaths (between the years of 1999 and 2013).
“[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not,” states the study’s authors.
The study’s results are similar to those of a study published last August in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, which found that medical cannabis states have seen a reduction in opioid overdose deaths by as much as 50%.
An opioid is a chemical painkiller – such as morphine, oxycodone and methadone – that resembles the pain relieving effects of opiates.