Study Suggests that Buying Marijuana in Colorado after Legalization Leads to Less Opiate Use


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According to a new research published in the American Journal of Public Health, marijuana legalization in Colorado has led to a ‘reversal’ of opiate overdose deaths in the state.

Authors Melvin D. Livingston, Alexander C. Wagenaar, Chris Delcher and Tracey E. Barnett stated, “After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years.”  Further, the authors stress that the results are preliminary, as their study encompasses only two years after the opening of state’s first recreational marijuana shops in the year 2014. However, this is true that numerous studies show an association between buying marijuana in Colorado and its legalization, and opioid overdose deaths. This report is to be one of the first that emphasis on recreational marijuana laws on opioid deaths.
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Effects of Buying Marijuana in Colorado for Treating Patients

Marijuana is highly effective at treating patients with chronic pain than through opioid. Given the choice between the two, patients often choose marijuana over opioid. Public Health considers it to be a positive point as marijuana carries an essentially low risk of fatal overdose than opioid. And thus, marijuana as medicine seems to harm less.

Now, the American Journal of Public Health stated that similar some findings are true for recreational marijuana legalization. In the findings, the authors tested trends in monthly opiate overdose fatalities in Colorado before and after the marijuana market opened in 2014. By comparing Colorado to Nevada, the authors attempted to separate the effect of recreational instead of medical. This allowed medical but not recreational marijuana during the period. Further, they also rectified a change in Colorado’s prescription-drug monitoring program that processed during the study period.

Conclusion of the Study

Overall, after analyzing and controlling, prescription-drug and medical marijuana, the study concluded that after implementation of the Colorado law, opioid deaths fell by 6.5%. The study is playing a key role in studying the ‘after effects’ of the legalization of marijuana as medicine and for recreation. In fact, there is a possibility that the government of different states may analyze the results after the legalization and alter some policies if it felt so.

The authors’ claim that policymakers will keep a close watch on the number to see whether the trend keep its pace steady or not. In fact, they will like to see whether their results are same in other states that newly approved recreational marijuana such as Oregon and Washington.

The study has many valuable pieces of evidence that state that increasing marijuana availability could reduce the toll of America’s opiate epidemic, which currently are ten thousand deaths each year.