Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Study: Fewer People Hospitalized For Opioid Abuse In States Where Marijuana Is Legal

Legal marijuana advocates called it. In states where weed is legal, hospitals are seeing a decline in patients needing treatment for opioid abuse.

Opponents, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have said legalizing weed would “trade one life-wrecking dependency for another,” saying it would be as dangerous to public health as heroin. Science, it seems, is not on their side.

The new study around hospitals, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, showed that hospitalization rates dropped 23 percent in states after medicinal marijuana was legalized.

“Instead, medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers,” study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego, told NBC News. “This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary.”

Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, added:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that battling the opioid epidemic will require a multi-pronged approach and a good deal of creativity. Could increased liberalization of marijuana be part of the solution? It seems plausible… There is still much we need to understand about the mechanisms through which marijuana policy may affect opioid use and harms.”

These findings agree with previous research around medical marijuana as an effective way to treat prescription painkiller addiction. More studies are needed, but as legal weed gains more ground in the U.S., it’ll make way for more studies of this kind to fight paranoia and politics with science.


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