Medical marijuana laws have provided patients with an alternative to opioids for conditions as varied as chronic pain and PTSD. Given the severity of America’s opioid epidemic, researchers have increasingly studied the impact of medical marijuana laws on opioid prescription rates, hospitalizations, and deaths. Overall, researchers have identified strong associations between the passage of medical marijuana laws and declines in opioid prescribing as well as opioid-related hospitalizations and deaths. According to a study published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate…compared with states without medical cannabis laws,” which resulted in 1,729 fewer deaths in 2010.
Bachhuber MA, Saloner B. Cunningham CO, Barry CL. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med 2014; 174(10) 1668-1673;doi:10.1001/jamaintermed.2014.4005