Quantcast
Connect with us

Recreational marijuana legalization reduces opioid deaths by 20%: study

Published

on

States that legalize recreational marijuana see a reduction of at least 20 percent in fatalities linked to opioid overdoses, according to a study published Wednesday that is likely to be welcomed by the cannabis industry.

Opioids were responsible for 47,600 overdose deaths in the US in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the crisis was declared a national emergency by President Donald Trump the same year.

ADVERTISEMENT

The legal status of marijuana meanwhile has shifted significantly over the past two decades: 10 states and Washington, DC now allow its recreational use and Illinois will follow in January, while 34 states and the federal capital permit medical cannabis treatment.

By comparing rates of overdose deaths before and after legalization, and between states at various points of legalization, the authors of the new paper published in the journal Economic Inquiry found what they called a “causal effect that we identify is highly robust” in opioid mortality reduction.

Their econometric analysis places the reduction in the range of 20 to 35 percent, with the effect particularly pronounced for deaths caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the United States’ deadliest drug, according to the latest official data.

“As you know, the opioid epidemic has been surging in recent years,” lead author Nathan Chan, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT

“So what that means is that everyone’s affected, it’s just that these states that have legalized are not as adversely affected as those that haven’t.”

The act of legalizing itself is not what produces the gains — rather, states that have legal access via dispensaries saw the largest reductions in mortality, Chan and his colleagues Jesse Burkhardt and Matthew Flyr at Colorado State University, wrote.

The study did not look at what factors were at play, but Chan suggested it could be that a growing number of people are self-medicating and “dealing with pain through marijuana use, and therefore they’re less likely to take on addictive opioids.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The findings are likely to be welcomed by the nascent legal marijuana industry but also treated with some degree of caution before they are replicated in other studies.

Some previous work on the topic has even found the opposite result: that cannabis use increases, rather than decreases non-medical prescription opioid use.

Chan however said that these papers, predominantly authored by doctors and not by economists, had failed to adequately differentiate between a positive correlation and causation, an important distinction to uncover given that certain drug users gravitate toward multiple drugs.

ADVERTISEMENT

Moving forward, Chan said he would like to work on pinpointing the mechanism by which the gains were achieved and test out his substitution theory.

An alternative hypothesis is that marijuana legalization improves a state’s economic activity and produces other effects on crime, incarceration, employment, and long-term health, all of which may be linked to opioid overdoses.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Three judges suspended for drunken 3 AM fight at White Castle — that ended with two shot

Published

on

Three judges were suspended after engaging in a drunken shooting outside a White Castle.

"Three Indiana judges involved in a Downtown Indianapolis fight in May that ended with two of the judges shot have been suspended without pay after the Indiana Supreme Court determined they committed judicial misconduct," the Indianapolis Star reports. "In an opinion issued Tuesday, the court said judges Bradley Jacobs, Andrew Adams and Sabrina Bell 'engaged in judicial misconduct by appearing in public in an intoxicated state and behaving in an injudicious manner and by becoming involved in a verbal altercation.'"

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

What Zelensky knew: The devastating and darkly ironic impact of Trump’s attempt to bribe Ukraine

Published

on

In their effort to exculpate President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry, Republicans put Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s denial that he ever felt pressure from the White House to open up investigations into Democrats at the center of their argument. A new GOP memo says that both leaders have acknowledged “there was no pressure” on the famous July 25 call that sparked the inquiry and thus argues that the allegations made by Democrats that Trump abused his power don’t hold.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Greta Thunberg says ‘people must finally wake up’ to the fact Trump is ‘so extreme’ on climate change

Published

on

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg said Tuesday that US President Donald Trump's climate change denialism was "so extreme" that it had helped galvanize the movement to halt long term planetary warming.

She spoke in an interview with AFP on the eve of her departure from North America where she has spent almost three months.

"He's so extreme and he says so extreme things, so I think people wake up by that in a way," the 16-year-old said from on board a sailboat preparing to depart from the East Coast town of Hampton, Virginia for Europe early Wednesday.

"I thought when he got elected, now people will finally, now people must finally wake up," she continued.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image