Study: Legalizing Medical Marijuana Associated with Reduced Opioid-Related Hospitalizations

The statewide legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a reduction in hospitalization from opioids, according to a new study.

The study, conducted at the University of California, was published by the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependency and the National Institute of Health. Researchers assessed the association between medical cannabis laws and hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers.

“This study demonstrated significant reductions on OPR- (opioid pain reliever) related hospitalizations associated with the implementation of medical marijuana policies”, states the lead researcher. “We found reductions in OPR-related hospitalizations immediately after the year of policy implementation as well as delayed reductions in the third post-policy year.”

The study also notes that the increased use of marijuana in states that have legalized it for medical use has not led to an increase in cannabis-related hospitalizations; “While the interpretation of the results should remain cautious, this study suggested that medical marijuana policies were not associated with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Instead, the policies were unintendedly associated with substantial reductions in OPR related hospitalizations.”

The study concludes; “Medical marijuana policies were significantly associated with reduced OPR-related hospitalizations but had no associations with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Given the epidemic of problematic use of OPR, future investigation is needed to explore the causal pathways of these findings.”

Click here for the full study.

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