25 per cent fewer deaths resulting from opioid overdoses in states allowing medical cannabis
On average, US states allowing the medical use of cannabis have lower rates of deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses than states without such laws, according to a multi-institutional study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.
Examining the rate of deaths caused by opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2010 revealled that on average, the 13 states allowing the use of medical cannabis had a 24.8 percent lower annual opioid overdose mortality rate after the laws were enacted than states without the laws.
While noting that evidence for the pain-relieving properties of cannabis is limited, some studies have suggested “it may provide relief for some individuals,” said lead author Dr Marcus A. Bachhuber.
Actually, cannabis (even in THC-free form) has been identified as a powerful pain reliever in more than 80 peer-reviewed studies. But we continue…
The relationship between lower opioid overdose deaths and medical cannabis laws only strengthened over time; deaths were nearly 20 percent lower in the first year after a state’s law was implemented, and 33.7 percent lower five years after implementation.
The study boosts what medicinal cannabis users have been insisting for years: that “treatment with cannabis may be safer for patients suffering from chronic pain related to cancer and other conditions.”
“May be?” The news comes a few months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) announced overdose deaths in the USA had increased for the 11th consecutive year in 2010, (Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
In 2010, nearly 60 percent of the drug overdose deaths (22,134) involved pharmaceutical drugs (so more than heroin and cocaine combined). Around 75% of these deaths were from opioid analgesics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone
The total of 16,651 – in one year alone remember, 2010 – “confirms the predominant role opioid analgesics play in drug overdose deaths” says the Bachhuber report.
Compared to the zero deaths from cannabis that year – or any other year – we reckon the jury is no longer out.