Marijuana Reduces Overdose Deaths
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/1/15
As heroin overdose continue to dominate the news in Ohio, passage of marijuana legalization becomes more critical, said Ohio Patient Network (OPN) President Rob Ryan.
OPN has heard for years from deep pain patients that the more marijuana they have, the fewer opioids they need to control their pain, Ryan said. These reports are reinforced in a Journal of American Medical Association report showing that overdose deaths have been significantly reduced in states that allow medical marijuana.
A team of investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore conducted a time-series analysis of medical cannabis laws and state-level death certificate data in the United States from 1999 to 2010 — a period during which 13 states instituted laws allowing for cannabis therapy.
Researchers reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” Specifically, overdose deaths from opioids decreased by an average of 20 percent one year after the law’s implementation, 25 percent by two years, and up to 33 percent by years five and six.
They concluded, “In an analysis of death certificate data from 1999 to 2010, we found that states with medical cannabis laws had lower mean opioid analgesic overdose mortality rates compared with states without such laws. This finding persisted when excluding intentional overdose deaths (ie, suicide), suggesting that medical marijuana laws are associated with lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality among individuals using opioid analgesics for medical indications. OPN has had multiple heroin/opioid addicts confirm that marijuana saved their lives by either lowering the need for opioids or going off that class of drugs altogether.
“Only through marijuana legalization can we determine the full therapeutic benefits of cannabis,’’ Ryan said. “That is why OPN is a strong supporter of Issue 3.’’
Issue 3 will be on the November ballot and would legalize marijuana for medical and personal use. OPN also opposes Issue 2, which Ryan said is an effort to not only undermine the marijuana legalization effort but also make it more difficult for citizens to pass future ballot issues.