Legalizing medical marijuana does not curb opioid deaths, study says

More Americans are turning to marijuana to take care of well-being factors, nevertheless, if you happen to occur to imagine legalizing medical weed will shrink the number of opioid-related deaths throughout the United States, assume as soon as extra.

Lawmakers and marijuana advocates have argued that legalizing weed to deal with energy paid will assist reduce opioid dependency, nevertheless, researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine say there would not seem like any connection between medical cannabis and opioid overdoses.

“If you think opening a bunch of dispensaries is going to reduce opioid deaths, you’ll be disappointed,” the study’s senior creator, Dr. Keith Humphreys, acknowledged in a press launch. “We don’t think cannabis is killing people, but we don’t think it’s saving people.”

Opioids are used to take care of affordable to excessive ache. More than 130 people throughout the U.S. die daily from opioid overdoses, with about 47,000 people dying in 2017, in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The opioid epidemic has led some to advocate marijuana must be used in its place treatment. Chronic ache is the most common scenario that drives people to utilize medical marijuana.

The Stanford study challenges a 2014 study by the University of Pennsylvania, which acknowledged there have been on widespread 25% fewer opioid-related deaths a yr in states that legalized medical marijuana. Only 13 states had legalized medicinal marijuana when the University of Pennsylvania study was carried out. It examined the pace of deaths attributable to opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2010.

The Stanford researchers examined CDC information on opioid overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017. The University of Pennsylvania researchers moreover used CDC information for his or her study.

The Stanford researchers found opioid-related deaths in states with medical marijuana did decline from 1999 to 2010. However, as soon as they analyzed overdose mortality prices as a lot as 2017 — at which stage, many further states had legalized medical cannabis to some extent — they found opioid deaths had been really elevated in states with licensed medical weed.

From 1999 to 2017, there was really a 22.7% improve in opioid-related deaths in states the place medical marijuana was licensed, the study found.

Currently, 33 states and Washington, D.C., have completely legalized medical cannabis, whereas 13 completely different states enable restricted use of medical marijuana.

“We find it unlikely that medical cannabis — used by about 2.5% of the U.S. population — has exerted large conflicting effects on opioid overdose mortality,” the study authors wrote.

The Stanford researchers acknowledged that after the Penn study was launched, pro-marijuana public officers, advocates, and even docs used the findings as an argument in favor of legalization of medical cannabis. The notion that using marijuana to take care of ache can curb opioid dependency has begun to affect protection in some states.

States like New York and Illinois have opioid different insurance coverage insurance policies, which permit victims who had been prescribed opioids to substitute their prescriptions for medical marijuana. Colorado docs may even prescribe medical marijuana as an alternative choice to opioids to take care of identical circumstances.

“Opioids can be highly addictive in a very short period of time,” says the Illinois Department of Public Health site. “This program offers qualifying individuals an alternative to manage their pain. The long-term goal of this program is to reduce opioid deaths.”

Humphreys acknowledged the findings aren’t “about the cannabis.” He acknowledged the lower opioid lack of life prices throughout the early days of legalization can further probably be attributed to specific insurance coverage insurance policies and circumstances in these states. States that legalized medical marijuana early had been wealthier and had higher entry to cures like naloxone, a lifesaving drug used to take care of opioid overdoses, he acknowledged.

Humphreys moreover acknowledged these states imprison fewer people for drug use — which suggests there’s a lot much less hazard of an inmate getting out of jail and overdosing on opioids because of their physique had grown unaccustomed to the drug all through their sentence.

Despite medical marijuana’s incapacity to reduce opioid overdose deaths, the study authors acknowledged there are nonetheless benefits to the drug.

“There are valid reasons to pursue medical cannabis policies, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them,” the study’s lead creator, Dr. Chelsea Shover, acknowledged in a press launch. She added researchers and politicians ought to go looking for completely different strategies to take care of the opioid epidemic.

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