Medical marijuana legalization associated with fewer opioid-related hospitalizations

San Diego, CA: The enactment of statewide legislation permitting medical cannabis access by qualified patients is associated with a reduction in opioid-related hospitalization, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

A researcher from the University of California at San Diego assessed the association between medical cannabis laws and hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers. The author reported both immediate and longer-term reductions in opioid-related hospitalization following changes in law.

“This study demonstrated significant reductions on OPR- (opioid pain reliever) related hospitalizations associated with the implementation of medical marijuana policies. … We found reductions in OPR-related hospitalizations immediately after the year of policy implementation as well as delayed reductions in the third post-policy year.”

The author also dismissed contentions that liberalized marijuana laws were associated with any subsequent increase in marijuana-related hospital admissions, concluding: “While the interpretation of the results should remain cautious, this study suggested that medical marijuana policies were not associated with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Instead, the policies were unintendedly associated with substantial reductions in OPR related hospitalizations.”

The findings are consistent with those of other studies reporting that medical cannabis legalization is associated with lower rates of opioid abuse, mortality, and prescription drug spending.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana policies and hospitalizations related to marijuana and opioid pain reliever,” appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Post Author: Norml

Norml
NORML's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable

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