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Study: Medical Marijuana Access Associated With Reduced Opioid Abuse


drug free america foundation pill mill florida marijuanaBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

States that permit qualified patients to access medical marijuana via dispensaries possess lower rates of opioid addiction and overdose deaths, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-partisan think-tank.

Researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of California, Irvine assessed the impact of medical marijuana laws on problematic opioid use, as measured by treatment admissions for opioid pain reliever addiction (compiled from the years 1992 to 2012) and by state-level opioid overdose deaths (compiled from the years 1999 to 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,” authors reported. They found that women over the age of 40 showed the most significant decrease in problematic opioid use.

Data published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine reported that the enactment of statewide medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws,” investigators reported.

Overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have increased dramatically over the past decade. While fewer than 4,100 opiate-induced fatalities were reported for the year 1999, by 2010 this figure rose to over 16,600 according to an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control.

An abstract of the study, “Do Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Addictions and Deaths Related to Pain Killers?”, is available online here.

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Johnny Green


  1. It’s good to see something validated by a credible institution that has been known by anyone that has experienced this first hand. peace

  2. I was hooked on Oxy and then used Cannabis to get off it. worked like a Charm! You can see why Cannabis is still illegal. You should at the weed blog investigate this. What states have the higher oxy abuse and see what their cannabis laws are like.

  3. PhDScientist on

    Medical Marijuana should replace opiates as first line treatment for severe and/or chronic pain. That simple action would dramatically reduce opiate addiction and opiate overdose related deaths.
    The need to remove Medical Marijuana from Schedule 1 has reached the level of an URGENT MORAL IMPERATIVE.
    Worst case, it could be moved to Schedule 3 but the most sensible solution is to de-schedule it completely and make it over the counter, since it is far safer from a therapeutic index standpoint than Tylenol.

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