It has recently been claimed that when cannabis dispensaries begin to open in a state, it results in lower rate of opioid overdoses in that state. This seems like a strange correlation. Why does this happen?
The vast majority of opioid users use this substance for the pain relief that it often provides them. But, with this pain relief comes the chance of overdose. Because cannabis is a viable alternative to opioids, many are turning to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis instead of opioids. It is currently estimated that three-fifths of the overdoses of opioids that occur happen with people who have a prescription for opioids. Researchers believe that cannabis can offer a viable alternative to these opioid users.
Is there Evidence that Supports This?
Research that was conducted in 2014 found that of the states that allowed medicinal marijuana, they had a 25% lower rate of overdoses from opioids compared to states that didn’t allow marijuana.
Researchers also found that the effect continued over time as well – in fact, it grew. Averages of 20% lower opioid deaths were reported in the first year of the relaxation of the marijuana laws, 24% lower overdoses in year 2, 26% in year 3 and an incredible 33% decrease in year 6.
This seems like pretty conclusive evidence doesn’t it? Although those who are resisting the relaxation of medicinal marijuana laws believe that marijuana is a “gateway” to opioid use, which the researchers refute wholeheartedly.
The head researcher in the study said that there is compelling evidence which points to the fact the relaxation of the medicinal marijuana laws in state results in a decrease in opioid overdose rates. He added that there are a large number of cases where patients would have turned to opioids, maybe even resulting in an overdose, who instead went towards the medicinal marijuana treatment option.
Why people are turning to cannabis instead of opioids is perhaps due to the change in the views of the vast majority of doctors who now recommend cannabis over opioids. Experts believe this rate will increase and the reduction in opioid overdose will continue to rise. As more and more states relax their laws, it is estimated in 50 years that the national overdose rate for opioids could reduce by 33% – which would be an incredible reduction.
If you are a current opioid user, you may wish to consult your doctor to see if medicinal marijuana could be a good option for you. If so, you can then get a prescription and take it to your local dispensary. The dispensaries near me tool is a good way to identify your local dispensary. They would then be able to recommend the best strain that would be suitable for your needs.