Legalizing Medical Marijuana Does Not Reduce Rate of Fatal Opioid Overdoses: Study

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A new study concludes legalizing medical marijuana does not reduce the rate of fatal opioid overdoses.

Rates of opioid overdoses deaths increased by 22.7% on average from 1999 to 2017 in states that had legalized medical marijuana, Stanford University researchers found.

A study conducted in 2014 found that states with medical marijuana laws experienced a 24.8% reduction in opioid-related deaths from 1999 to 2010, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In the new study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers extended the analysis to 2017, and took into account the strictness of different medical marijuana laws.

Researchers found that when they analyzed opioid deaths through 2017—when most states had legalized some form of medical marijuana—states with legal medical marijuana had a higher rate of deaths due to opioid overdoses.

“If you think opening a bunch of dispensaries is going to reduce opioid deaths, you’ll be disappointed,” researcher Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., said in a news release. “We don’t think cannabis is killing people, but we don’t think it’s saving people.”

How to Talk About Marijuana

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