New evidence shines a light on the benefits of marijuana over opioids
Deaths caused by the abuse of highly addictive substances and others derived from opium, including heroin, have contributed to the rise in overdose deaths in the US. Of the people who have lost their lives due to overdose in previous years, more than two out of three were opioid victims, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s leading public health institute. In fact, more Americans now die from overdoses than from firearms or traffic accidents. According to a study by the University of Pittsburgh, the legalization of marijuana could cause all of these opioid-induced health emergencies to decrease.
A clear example of this has been states such as California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts, where opioid-related emergencies were reduced by 7.6% within one year of cannabis legalization. The study’s lead author, Coleman Drake made it clear that cannabis legalization is not the magic wand capable of stopping the opioid epidemic, but that it could go a long way in helping lawmakers combat the crisis across the board in relation to that issue.
“It suggests that legalization of recreational cannabis could be an effective tool to help not only reduce opioid use but also reduce the health implications of opioid use, one of which is overdoses,” Drake said, “That’s potentially exciting and promising.”
On the other hand, a 2014 study looked at states where marijuana was available for medical use between 1999 and 2010 and found, on average, a 25% per year reduction in opioid overdose mortality versus states where marijuana was illegal, and this has been a clear indicator for more research to be developed over time.