There has long been a concern among many that cannabis use may lead to addiction, but new emerging evidence suggests that the introduction of this potent plant may actually help to curb addiction to other, more dangerous substances, including opioids. In fact, ever since cannabis has been legalized in various states across the US, opioid deaths have been shown to slow, according to new research.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 130 people in the US die after overdosing on opioids every single day. Just the cost of prescription opioid misuse is costing taxpayers $78.5 billion a year. It’s become an epidemic that has caught the attention of lawmakers to the point that measures are currently underway to counter this crisis.
A new study published in Science Daily suggests that the legalization of marijuana has actually lowered the number of opioid deaths. Researchers looked at how the shift in legal status of cannabis has influenced the number of opioid overdose deaths in the US over the past two decades and discovered that legalization and increased access to recreational cannabis is linked to a reduction in opioid mortality by 20% to 35%. Synthetic opioid overdoses, in particular, were found to be most affected by such legalization.
The suggestion that marijuana use may help to curb overdose deaths from hard drugs like opioids is nothing new, as there has been previous research that has pointed to an association between laws surrounding medical marijuana and lowered opioid overdose death rates. However, these more recent findings are important and relevant given the time that they’ve been published, as the opioid epidemic in the US has reached new heights, calling for immediate intervention to deal with the dire situation.