September 1, 2104 – Marijuana and Opioids


Anchor lead: States with medical marijuana laws see fewer deaths related to opiate use, Elizabeth Tracey reports

When medical marijuana use laws are on the books, fewer people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose, a study by Colleen Barry, a health policy expert in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues, has found.

Barry: We found that rates of prescription opioid overdose deaths had increased in all states over our study period, which was 1999 to 2010, however the yearly rate of opioid deaths in states with medical marijuana laws was about 25% lower on average than in states without these laws.  States with medical marijuana law had about 1700 fewer opiate painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than we would have expected.   :31

Barry says this study provides an association only, and urges prospective study to understand the phenomenon better.  The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.