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Study: Opioid Abuse Rates Lower In Medical Marijuana States


socal high times medical cannabis cupBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Rates of prescription opioid abuse are significantly lower in jurisdictions that permit medical marijuana access, according to data reported by Castlight Health, an employee health benefits platform provider.

Investigators assessed anonymous prescription reporting data from over one million employees between the years 2011 and 2015.

In states that did not permit medical marijuana access, 5.4 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription qualified as abusers of the drug. (The study’s authors defined “abuse” as opioid use by an individual who was not receiving palliative care, who received greater than a 90-day cumulative supply of opioids, and received an opioid prescription from four or more providers.) By contrast, only 2.8 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription living in medical marijuana states met the criteria.

The findings are similar to those reported by the RAND Corporation in 2015, which determined, “[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”

Data published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine also reported that the enactment of statewide medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, finding, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

Full text of the new study, “The opioid crisis in America’s workforce,” appears online here.

Source: NORML - make a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. saynotohypocrisy on

    Do your job, Centers for Disease Control. Tell the pols in no uncertain terms that by not allowing doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for pain everywhere in this country, they are ignoring the science on how to reduce opiate overdose deaths.

  2. No other pain medication has as wide a therapeutic index as Medical Marijuana. Its incredibly safe and incredibly effective.

  3. This is not surprising considering that in legal states chronic pain sufferers have better safer non addictive pain medication .
    To bad in America corporate greed rules and restrictions are controlled by our government that has deep pockets

  4. SilentPatriot on

    Quick, someone rap Gov. Christie over the head with this before Trump considers him for his administration!

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