Overdoses Fell with Medical Marijuana Legalization

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. 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.

– Read the entire article at New York Times.