Study: Opioid Overdose Deaths Drop As Much As 50% in States Where Medical Cannabis is Legalized

A new study published online yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine has found states that have legalized medical cannabis have seen a drastic reduction of opioid overdose mortality rates.pills

Researchers from the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the University of Pennsylvania, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the prescription painkiller overdose death rates of all 50 states between 1999 and 2010, using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study found that, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” Researchers noted that the change was almost immediate; every state that legalized medical cannabis saw a dramatic decrease in opioid overdose deaths within the first year (averaging about 20% less). The decline continued each year after. By the 5th year, states had experienced a decrease in opioid deaths ranging up to 50.9%.

Researchers assert that in states where medical cannabis is legalized, patients are replacing their prescription painkillers, or reducing the amount they take, by using cannabis – therefore reducing the chance of deadly overdose.

The study concludes that, “Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates,” and “Further investigation is required to determine how medical cannabis laws may interact with policies aimed at preventing opioid analgesic overdose.

3 comments

    • carol on September 1, 2015 at 6:59 pm
    • Reply

    Wish you had click or link for original study as shared from this site sadly will be looked upon as biased and maybe not bothered to be read because of your bias.

    1. Hi Carol,

      In the first line of the article we hyper-link directly to the study’s abstract:

      http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1898878#Abstract

    • NorCalNative on August 26, 2014 at 10:26 am
    • Reply

    Hope is the opposite of suicidal ideation.

    The psychoactive component of THC and the healing powers of CBD, and the rest of the cannabinoids really do offer hope for patients. The trend in MMJ states for patients to reduce and/or eliminate opiates is directly related to access to cannabis and ESPECIALLY “full extract cannabis oil” a.k.a. Phoenix Oil or Rick Simpson Oil.

    I had a long list of Big Pharma medications I was taking and I replaced them all including a Schedule II morphine prescription of 17-years with full extract cannabis oil, tinctures, edibles and/or vaporizing flowers and concentrates.

    Hard to overdose on opiates if they’re no longer in the house. In the context of the recent move for Schedule III Vicodin to Schedule II, moving over the cannabis-based medicine fits with current Western medical thought.

    Final note: Rick Simpson Oil can be made in almost ANY ratio of THC-to-CBD or CBD-to-THC. It’s important that society recognizes that different patients require different ratios, even for the same disease. Legislation in CBD-only states is a win for a few at the expense of the MANY.

    The GW Pharmaceutical model of the 1:1 ratio of THC-to-CBD seems to work for many patients and conditions but is NOT close to the only appropriate ratio in every patient and/or every case. For example, pediatric patients using the 20% CBD-to- 0.5% THC oil called “Charlotte’s Web” often don’t get similar relief as Charlotte. They have found better success by adding THC.

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