Study shows legalized cannabis reduces opioid deaths

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As the battle for cannabis dispensaries continues in the United States, supporters will be happy to hear that a new study finds that cannabis dispensaries could help solve a major problem that the United States has been dealing with for quite some time.

In a new study conducted by the Economic Inquiry journal, researchers discovered that the legalization of adult-use cannabis reduced opioid overdose deaths by a staggering 21%.

According to reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, states such as Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona have been struck by the growing epidemic. All those states have seen the death toll rise as a result of opioid abuse with Georgia experiencing 769 deaths alone in 2016 due to abuse of opioids.

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The study was carried out by economists at the University of Massachusetts and Colorado State University, and they discovered that the legalization of cannabis had “particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids” like fentanyl.

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Moreover, the researchers’ “principal finding is that recreational marijuana access significantly decreases opioid mortality, with the most pronounced effects for synthetic opioids.” In addition, the researchers commented that the effect “stems primarily from access via dispensaries rather than legality per se.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that “in 2017, there were more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. – an age-adjusted rate of 21.7 per 100,000 persons.” Furthermore, “among these, 47,600 involved opioids.”

That same year, “Florida providers wrote 60.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons.”

Philippe Lucas, a Canadian researcher, noted “that pain patients might bypass the use of opioids altogether if physicians recommended trying medical cannabis first, rather than opioids first.” Then, “if the cannabis provides sufficient relief, opioids would never need to come into the equation.”

As well, “cannabis may help patients using opioids to use feweropioids or find more effective relief at lower dosage levels.”

Finally, “cannabis may help those with an opioid dependency transition to replacement therapy with methadone.”

As the conversation continues, states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona will be listening, noting that their lawmakers are racing against time in order to find a sensible measure that will stop the growing epidemic.



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Daniel Molina was the Opinion Editor of his high school’s newspaper, and he was also Editor-in-Chief of Miami Dade College’s Urbana literary and arts magazine wherein he also won the 2013 FCSAA Best Fiction Story in the State of Florida Award. He’s currently pursuing his Bachelor’s in English Literature. Hobbies in his free time include reading, writing and watching films and basketball.