Researchers Reaffirm Marijuana Reduces Opioid Abuse and Call on Politicians to Consider Legalization

Several studies have suggested a link between legalized marijuana and lowered rates of opioid abuse, but a new study is taking it a step further and calling on politicians to take action.

A new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine looked at the amount of opioid use in different states from 2006 to 2014, and examined whether legalizing medical marijuana affected those rates. They found that states with medical marijuana did in fact have lower rates of opioid abuse, and even went a step further and called on politicians to legalize cannabis as a means to combat the nation's opioid crisis.

"In states where marijuana is available through medical channels, a modestly lower rate of opioid and high-risk opioid prescribing was observed," the researchers wrote. "Policy makers could consider medical marijuana legalization as a tool that may modestly reduce chronic and high-risk opioid use."

Several other studies in the past have reached the same conclusion as this one. This would seem to counter the traditional argument against marijuana legalization that cannabis is a gateway drug. If it truly were a gateway drug, wouldn't states with legalized medical marijuana have higher rates of opioid abuse?

A task force created by the Trump administration to fight the opioid crisis previously said they would not consider legalizing marijuana as an alternative to painkillers. But at some point, they'll be forced to listen to the science. 

(h/t Springer Nature)

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People are justifiably excited over the groundbreaking legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis in Canada and several American states. But it's important not to overlook the crucial role that medical cannabis plays every day in the lives of millions. So what does medical cannabis mean in a legalizing world?

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