Medical Marijuana Laws May Reduce Painkiller Overdoses
States that have legalized marijuana for managing chronic pain have significantly fewer deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses each year, according to a new study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers looked at medical marijuana laws and death certificate data in all 50 states between 1999 and 2010. During that time, just 13 states had medical marijuana laws in place.
“We found there was about a 25% lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths on average after implementation of a medical marijuana law,” lead study author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber said.
In 2010 alone, he said, states with medical marijuana laws had approximately 1,700 fewer overdose deaths than would have been expected based on the numbers before such laws were passed.
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain, including 100 million Americans.