Making medical marijuana legal does not prevent fatal opioid overdoses, study says

Making medical marijuana legal does not prevent fatal opioid overdoses, study says

Publication date: Jun 11, 2019

A new study shoots down the notion that medical marijuana laws can prevent opioid overdose deaths, challenging a favorite talking point of legal pot advocates. Previous research linked medical marijuana laws to slower-than-expected increases in state prescription opioid death rates from 1999 to 2010.

The scientists who published that work in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 speculated that patients might be substituting marijuana for painkillers, though they warned against drawing conclusions. Still, states ravaged by opioid overdose deaths began to rethink the role of marijuana, leading several to legalize pot for medical use. So a team led by Chelsea Shover of Stanford University School of Medicine decided to update the analysis using data through 2017.

When they did, they found the reverse: Death rates involving prescription opioids were 23% higher than expected in states that passed medical marijuana laws. Legalizing medical marijuana “is not going to be a solution to the opioid overdose crisis,” said Shover, a postdoctoral scholar in psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

So there’s still reason to believe that for some people, marijuana can substitute for opioids as a pain reliever. As for addiction and the overdose crisis, “we should focus our research and policies on other questions that might make a difference,” Shover said. Johnson is a writer for the Associated Press.

Concepts Keywords
Addiction Drug overdose
Antidote Opioid use disorder
Behavioral Sciences Ketones
Billboard Opioid antagonists
Bloomberg Euphoriants
Buprenorphine Morphinans
Chelsea Chemical compounds
Chronic Pain RTT
Fentanyl Organic compounds
Heroin Opioids
Insurance
JAMA
Marijuana
Mexico
Morphine
Naloxone
Naltrexone
Opioid
Opioid Addiction
Opioid Overdose
Opioids
Overdose
Overdose Deaths
Pain Reliever
Painkillers
Pennsylvania
Psychiatry
Rein
Stanford
Substitute
Talking Point

Semantics

Type Source Name
gene UNIPROT SMIM10L2B
gene UNIPROT SMIM10L2A
gene UNIPROT F11R
drug DRUGBANK Naltrexone
drug DRUGBANK Morphine
drug DRUGBANK Buprenorphine
drug DRUGBANK Fentanyl
drug DRUGBANK Diamorphine
drug DRUGBANK Medical Cannabis
disease MESH death
drug DRUGBANK Naloxone
disease MESH chronic pain

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