Legalized cannabis may be the winning ticket when it comes to combating the opioid epidemic. Over in Colorado, it appears that the legalization of marijuana has curtailed the rising trend of opioid deaths following a 14-year-long rising epidemic.
In Colorado, opioid deaths have dropped 6 percent since recreational marijuana use was legalized statewide in January 2014, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths,” the American Journal of Public Health paper concludes. “As additional data become available, research should replicate these analyses in other states with legal recreational cannabis.”
Meanwhile, a different study at the University of North Texas compared opioid-related deaths over time in Colorado, and found out another interesting correlation between cannabis legalization and a reduction in opioid-related deaths. Since, recreational cannabis was legaly introduced to Colorado’s market, opiod-related deaths has seen a 0.7 death reduction per month.
“Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month (b = −0.68; 95% confidence interval = −1.34, −0.03) reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”
There’s yet another study that correlated cannabis to the drop of opoid-related deaths, this time nationwide. A 2014 study demonstrates that from 1999 to 2010, states that had legal medical marijuana laws also had a nearly 25 percent lower “mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate” compared to states which prohibted medically-prescribed cannabis.
“Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis,” those researchers wrote, “laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them.”
Is this the green solution to the opioid epedemic?