A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health has found that legalized marijuana in Colorado is actually savings American lives.
According to the study, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has led to a “reversal” in the trend of opioid overdose deaths in the state.
The researchers attempted to isolate the effects of recreational, rather than medical, marijuana for the study. They compared Colorado to Nevada, which allowed medical but not recreational marijuana during the same time period. They also took into account Colorado’s prescription-drug-monitoring program that happened during the study period.
The authors say that the results are preliminary, as they only encompass two years of data. But the findings are intriguing. Overall, the study found that after Colorado implemented their new recreational marijuana law, opioid-related deaths fell by 6.5 percent in the following two years.
Writes authors Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar:
“After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years.”
Until now, there has not been the opportunity in the United States for studies on recreational marijuana use and opioids. The study is one of the first to look at the impact of recreational marijuana on opioid deaths.
Previously there have only been studies on medical marijuana and opioid overdoes deaths, which also showed that states with medical marijuana laws see fewer opioid deaths.
Access to medical marijuana has also been linked with fewer painkiller prescriptions, less opioid use among chronic pain patients, and fewer opioid-induced car crashes.