Study: Medical Marijuana Legalization Associated With Few Opioid Deaths, But Only in States With Dispensaries

A new study conducted by the RAND Corporation and published by the Journal of Health Economics has found that although medical marijuana legalization is associated with a decrease in opioid deaths, this is only true in states that have legalized dispensaries.

“The association between medical marijuana and lower levels of opioid overdose deaths — identified previously in several studies — is more complex than previously described and appears to be changing as both medical marijuana laws and the opioid crisis evolve”, says the Rand Corporation, whose new study is “the most-detailed examination of medical marijuana and opioid deaths conducted to date”.

The report found that “legalizing medical marijuana was associated with lower levels of opioid deaths only in states that had provisions for dispensaries that made medical marijuana easily available to patients.” Opioid death rates were not lower in states that just provided legal protections to patients and caregivers, allowing them to grow their own marijuana.

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Study: Patients with Access to Medical Marijuana Reduce their Use of Opioids

By NORML

Patients registered to use medical cannabis decrease their use of opioids, according to data compiled by researchers at the University of New Mexico.

Opioids

Investigators assessed the use of prescription opioids over an 18-month period among patients enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program compared to similar patients who were not.

They reported that subjects with access to medical cannabis reduced their use of opioids by 31 percent while those not in the program experienced a slight increase in opioid use over this same time period.

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