Fewer Deaths in States Where Medical Marijuana Is Legalzied
A recent study by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that states with legalized medical marijuana have fewer painkiller deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses than states without such laws. Opioid analgesics, such as OxyCotin, Percocet, and Vicodin, are prescribed for moderate to severe pain, and alleviate pain by suppressing an individual’s perception of pain. The study examined the rate of deaths caused by opioid overdoses between the years of 1999 and 2010. The results found that on average, the 13 states with legalized medical marijuana have 24.8% lower annual opioid overdose mortality rate. This suggests that the states with medical marijuana have more individuals selecting to use medical marijuana to manage their pain, instead of the traditional treatment of opioid use. It also suggests that some users may be reducing their dosage amount of opioids and supplementing medical marijuana.
Prescription of opioids for non-cancer pain has nearly doubled over the last decade and overdose deaths involving opioids analgesics have increased dramatically since. Approximately 4,100 opioid-induced fatalities were reported in 1999, but in 2010 this figure rose to over 16,600 (a 118% increase) according to a study by the CDC. It is estimated that 113 patients die every day from drug overdoses in the United States, and 6,700 people end up in the emergency room due to an overdose. Additional results of the study strengthens the link the relationship between reduced opioid deaths and legalized medical marijuana. Deaths were nearly 20% lower in the first year after medical marijuana laws were implemented and 33.7% lower five years after.