Is medical marijuana the key to addressing prescription drug abuse deaths? A study conducted by a professor from Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health seems to conclude so.
Dr. Colleen L. Barry, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Health Policy and Management, released a team study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that links lower deaths due to prescription drug abuse in states that legalize medical marijuana. “As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal,” Barry said in a news item.
The study revealed that states where medical pot has been legalized posted a 25 percent lower mortality rate due to prescription medication overdose. The research used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between the years 1999 and 2010, which showed that the rate of fatalities arising from opioid painkiller abuse shot up within that particular time frame.
Study lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber from the University of Pennsylvania shared the details of the research results. “In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed.”
Meanwhile, the study’s proponents urged for more studies related to this topic, noting that there is a need to determine the long-term effects of medical marijuana in “both overdose deaths and the health trajectories of individuals suffering from chronic pain.”