A new study shows that legal cannabis results in a significant decrease in opioid deaths
A new study came out this week that provides further evidence of marijuana’s ability to help stop the opioid crisis. According to a report in the Economic Inquiry Journal, researchers have determined that legal marijuana states with active dispensaries have seen a significant drop in opioid overdose deaths. Cannabis results in those deaths declining by as much as 21%.
The study was led by both the University of Massachusetts and Colorado State University. The results showed that deaths caused by synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were substantially reduced, with the researchers explaining, “Our principal finding is that recreational marijuana access significantly decreases opioid mortality, with the most pronounced effects for synthetic opioids. They added that the effect “stems primarily from access via dispensaries rather than legality per se.”
The research project looked at mortality data available from the Centers for Disease Control from 1999 to 2017. That data was compared to other data from the legalization of cannabis in each state. As a result of the comparison, the team was able to conclusively show that fewer opioid deaths were reported in states that had legal marijuana programs, with the number diminishing with each year the program has existed.
The researchers concluded, “States with legal access to marijuana were far less affected by the opioid mortality boom of the past decade than those without. Thus, our work provides important food for thought for state and federal authorities that continue to mull medical and/or recreational legalization of marijuana.”