Deaths from prescription overdose and abuse is reaching epidemic proportions. Many studies have been performed on how best to tackle this problem that spans across all economic and social segments of the population. One such study, led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, examined the level of prescription overdose deaths in states that have legalized Medical Cannabis.
What they found was:
In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal…
The study goes on the state:
“In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed,” says the study’s lead author, Marcus Bachhuber of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania.
The reasons for the decrease aren’t clear but suggest “people with chronic pain choosing alternative treatments, or medical marijuana laws might also change the way people abuse or misuse prescription pain medications, or something else entirely.” What is clear is that there is a definite relationship between lower prescription drug deaths and legalizing marijuana.
“Given the fast pace of policy change, more research is critical to understand how medical marijuana laws might be influencing both overdose deaths and the health trajectories of individuals suffering from chronic pain,” he says.