States with medical marijuana have 25 percent fewer prescription overdose deaths

States with medical marijuana have 25 percent fewer prescription overdose deaths

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the prescription drug overdose death rates. In aggregate, states with medical marijuana laws had higher death rates than those without, though the authors’ statistical analysis did find that the laws were in fact associated with overall decreases in overdose deaths.

States that allow medical marijuana have 25 percent fewer prescription drug overdose deaths, a team of researchers finds in a newly released academic paper, suggesting that expanded access to marijuana, often used for its purported pain-alleviating qualities, could have unintended benefits.

“As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal,” Colleen L. Barry, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School and senior author of the study, said in a statement. The analysis was conducted by researchers from the Bloomberg School and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Read More…