Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fatal ODs fell 25% where medical marijuana legal

Overdoses Fell with Medical Marijuana Legalization - NYTimes.com - Colleen Barry:

April 26, 2016 - "While opioid pain relievers offer critical benefits to certain patients, such as those with cancer-related pain, the rise of opioid prescriptions has had devastating public health consequences. The C.D.C. [Center for Disease control] recently urged physicians to be very cautious in prescribing these drugs.

"Meanwhile, access to medical marijuana has expanded rapidly — 24 states and D.C. have legalized its broad medical use — and chronic or severe pain is the most common condition reported among those using it. On it's face, this might seem to mirror the rise in prescription opioid use.

"But using state-level death certificate data from 1999 to 2010, my colleagues and I found that the annual rate of opioid overdose deaths decreased substantially — by 25 percent on average — following the passage of medical marijuana laws, compared to states that still had bans.

"Could medical marijuana be a safer alternative to opioids for chronic pain management? If so, it would potentially reduce harms from opioid medicines.

"Our study opened the door to that possibility, but it did not establish the causal mechanisms by which marijuana might influence overdose deaths and was conducted before the massive surge in heroin use and related overdose deaths....

"Similarly, we don't know whether the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes will have an impact — positive or negative — on nonmedical use of opioids and heroin. Again, evidence is lacking and will likely depend on how recreational marijuana is regulated."

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/04/26/is-marijuana-a-gateway-drug/overdoses-fell-with-medical-marijuana-legalization
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