Study: Medical Cannabis Does Not Lower Opioid Overdose Death Rates
Recent study findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will be disappointing news for many who had hoped that medical cannabis could save the lives of thousands who are addicted to opioids.
This new study, which included data through 2017, was essentially an updated version of the 2014 study that pointed to medical cannabis states having lower opioid overdose death rates. But, this new study actually found the opposite to be true now. Sadly, those states with legal medical cannabis had 23% more opioid deaths.
This does not mean that medical cannabis isn’t a safe alternative to opioids. It doesn’t mean that medical cannabis and CBD aren’t effective in treating many of the symptoms and side effects affecting patients who’ve been prescribed opioids. It simply suggests that cannabis alone hasn’t yet slowed these tragic deaths.
Is it possible that even though more states have legalized medical cannabis, that barriers such as price and access are preventing it from keeping up with the growing opioid crisis? Yes. This is not “bad news” for medical cannabis legalization efforts. It’s just disappointing news that the opioid crisis continues and the perfect solution to it may be more elusive than originally thought.
“We don’t think cannabis was saving lives at the population level 10 years ago, and we don’t think it’s killing people now,” Shover said. “We think these two factors are separate issues.”
The study’s authors stressed, however, that their findings should not derail research into the possible benefits of medicinal marijuana, even as it relates to the opioid epidemic. In fact, a recent study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that a component of cannabis called cannabidiol (CBD) could reduce cravings and anxiety in people with a history of heroin abuse. […]
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