New Study Brings Skepticism to Idea That Legal Marijuana Reduces Opioid Deaths


In recent years, health professionals and policymakers have become increasingly interested in medical cannabis’s potential to reduce opioid use and prevent overdose deaths. Several states have already added opioid replacement provisions to their medical marijuana programs or approved opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition. At the same time, studies and surveys have seemed to suggest that states with legalized medical marijuana were seeing fewer opioid-related overdose deaths. But a new study, published yesterday, is complicating our understanding of whether legalization could be a potential solution to the opioid epidemic.

New Data Suggests Legal Weed isn’t Winning the Fight Against Opioids

In 2014, researchers found that states with legal medical cannabis access showed a trend of declining opioid overdose mortality rates over a period of about 10 years from 1999 to 2010. In medical marijuana states, patients were filling fewer opioid prescriptions. And fewer people were dying from opioid-related overdose deaths.

The study kicked off of wave of policy shifts approving medical cannabis as a treatment for opioid use disorder. More studies came out that seemed to corroborate the 2014 paper, showing how legal marijuana of any kind seemed to reduce opioid-related harm.

But a new study, published yesterday in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, says those gains are disappearing. The paper, titled “Association between medical cannabis laws and opioid overdose mortality has reversed over time,” points out a dramatic swing in the association between medical marijuana legalization and opioid overdose deaths.

Where once legal medical marijuana states had a 21 percent lower rate of opioid deaths than states without medical marijuana, those same states now have a 23 percent higher rate of opioid deaths than prohibition states. In other words, cannabis is losing the battle against opioids.

So the negative association between opioid deaths and legalized medical marijuana observed between 1999 and 2010 didn’t last. And from 2010 to 2017, it actually reversed. “What we found was that association between enacting a medical cannabis law and the rate of deaths from opioid overdose actually reversed over time,” said the study’s lead author, Chelsea Shover, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University.

Research Into Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis Should Continue

So why isn’t legal medical marijuana having the same effect on opioid death rates as it once did? Was it ever the real cause behind declining overdose rates? Researchers don’t yet have all the answers. But they have some hypotheses. Shover says the decrease in opioid-related deaths in medical marijuana states may have something to do with their average wealth. Patients in Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington may simply have been able to afford better access to addiction treatment and medications.

Then, there’s the view that medical cannabis use is still relatively uncommon, and therefore unable to really make an impact on the opioid epidemic. “We find it unlikely that medical cannabis—used by about 2.5 percent of the US population—has exerted large conflicting effects on opioid mortality,” the study’s authors wrote. “A more plausible interpretation is that this association is spurious.”

But just because claims about cannabis’s potential to fight the opioid epidemic should be met with skepticism, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t research how it could. “Research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis should continue,” the study says.

Indeed, that research is already too promising not to continue pursuing. It may be hard to show how marijuana laws are impacting opioid mortality rates. But cannabis-based medicines and therapies have already shown promise as effective treatments for addiction. One recent study, for example, found that cannabidiol (CBD) helps reduce cravings and abstinence anxiety in people struggling to overcome opioid and heroin use disorders.





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Los Angeles Cannabis Businesses Urge Officials to Crack Down on Illicit Market


There is an ongoing battle in Los Angeles over the proliferation of illegal cannabis dispensaries, which many in the legal business community say is cutting sharply into their profits. Since illegal dispensaries don’t have to live up to the same guidelines and tax rates as regulated cannabis shops, they are able to provide marijuana to the consumer for a more affordable price. With the state’s marijuana revenue numbers clocking in much lower than had been anticipated, concerns are running high over the issue.

On Monday, cannabis entrepreneur group Southern California Coalition sent a letter to the city asking officials to get nastier with the illegal dispensaries. The communique counseled LA agencies to ramp up its raids on illegal dispensaries, and suggested that fining employees to discourage them from returning to their jobs could help to do the trick.

The letter also posited that if authorities seized cash and cannabis products on site at the businesses in question, it could prevent them from re-opening quickly. Other measures suggested included employing tax liens, and enlisting building inspectors to accompany officials on raids in order to close down any structurally unsound illegal dispensaries.

Should the city fail to take further action on the matter, the coalition says results could be disastrous for legal operators, who “cannot compete with illicit operators,” according to the letter.

One reason that the legal businesses are hurting in competition with the unlicensed shops are the taxes that the state government levies on cannabis. Policy makers have begun to respond to the industry’s concerns that such levies are too high. In January, a bill was introduced in the state assembly that would lower the excise tax from 11 to 15 percent.

One technique that the city has tried to combat illegal dispensaries has involved focusing on the fact that they are not beholden to the same strict testing processes as the rest of the industry. In April, a city attorney announced plans to sue the dispensary Kush Club 20. The lawsuit suggests that the business was selling cannabis good that had been found to be contaminated by paclobutrazol, a chemical used in the growing process to combat pests and regulate growth. The substance is not allowed for use with cannabis by California law.

The suit is demanding $20,000 a day from the business for every day that it operated without a license. Given the fact Kush Club 20 had been doing so for over a year at the time of the lawsuit’s announcement, that amounts to a considerable sum of money — certainly enough to give pause to other illegal dispensaries in the area. A TV news investigation found earlier this year that some 30 percent of unlicensed Los Angeles cannabis businesses were selling contaminated product.  

Concern over the operation of unlicensed dispensaries is understandable, but it is certainly worth noting that were it not for the efforts of “illegal” cannabis stores in California, we might be in a much different place when it comes to the worldwide marijuana legalization movement. Some regulation guidelines have even had the effect of shutting down the same kind of compassionate care organizations that pioneered easy and safe cannabis access for deserving patients.





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Oregon Legislature Passes Historic Bill to Allow Cannabis Exports – Weed News


Oregon Welcomes You

Oregon, with a long history with cannabis, combined with some great weather in the southern part of the state, and relatively low barriers to enter the regulated market, has produced a lot of cannabis since the state legalized cannabis commerce. I mean, a lot. The huge supply of cannabis, a bounty, if you will, has led to rock-bottom prices, creating a cannabis connoisseur’s dream, but has made it exceedingly difficult for producers to make any kind of profit. Other states, and nations, don’t have an adequate supply and could use more cannabis, particularly lab-tested, sungrown cannabis. A true win-win bill was introduced to allow Oregon’s governor to enter into export agreements with other legal states and that historic bill passed today. Representative Rob Nosse even brought a cannabis plant with him onto the Oregon House floor for today’s vote!

From an email from the Craft Cannabis Alliance’s Adam Smith:

The bill will grant the Governor authority to enter into agreements with other states to allow interstate transfers of cannabis between licensees.   The bill previously passed the Oregon Senate, and now heads to Governor Brown’s desk. We expect her to sign it.

This bill’s passage is a strong statement by the Oregon legislature that the state understands both the future of the cannabis industry and Oregon’s place in it. It sends a signal to other states – both natural producer states and natural import states – that Oregon is ready to do business and share our bounty of world class cannabis with other people who love it too!

Opening markets to cannabis from the world’s most important production region is particularly important for locally-owned craft producers and manufacturers, many of whom are barely hanging on, waiting to be able to bring their world class products to larger legal markets where they would be in high demand and fetch a fair price.

From a press release from the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association:

“This is a major paradigm shift for sure,” says Casey Houlihan, Executive Director of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association (ORCA). “When we started the conversation around cannabis exports four years ago, this was not on the radar of most legislators.  But it’s really smart public policy – it’s important to our members, important for our state, and important for the future of the entire cannabis industry.  Passing this bill at this critical moment is a testament to the massive value for the industry in building strong relationships with legislators and working to educate our lawmakers in Salem.”

“The Emerald Region, from Oregon through Northern California, is one of the best and most important cannabis-producing regions in the world,” says Adam J. Smith, Founder and Executive Director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance, who also supported the bill. “In fact, this region has produced the majority of the nation’s domestic cannabis for generations.  As we move inexorably towards regulated markets, this bill brings us one step closer to sharing Oregon’s bounty, legally, with consumers everywhere.”

The bill contains a  “trigger” requiring that before the governor can enter into such an agreement, the federal government must allow such transfers in federal statute or indicate tolerance via a Department of Justice memo or policy directive. Seen as a long-shot before the session, the bill gained national attention as more and more states explore legalization policies. Under current conventions, every newly legal state must create a self-contained production industry, regardless of economic or environmental suitability.

Houlihan continued, “For years, most members of the legislature have been overwhelmed with implementing cannabis legalization. With the passage of this bill, Oregon’s lawmakers will likely factor in the many positive local impacts of our position as a global leader in cannabis production.”

A sincere thanks to the Craft Cannabis Alliance, the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, and every organization and advocate that convinced a bipartisan group of legislators to pass this common-sense bill. The cannabis export bill now heads to Governor Kate Brown’s desk and she is expected to sign it. This is a great day for the Oregon cannabis community and for the rest of the nation, particularly consumers and patients that could use a variety of affordable options at their local retailers and dispensaries. Step by step, state by state, freedom, jobs, and revenue are on the march.

Oregon rep cannabis
Oregon State Representative Rob Nosse brought a cannabis plant from East Fork Cultivars onto the Oregon House floor for the historic vote to allow cannabis exports. Photo courtesy of a press release from the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association.



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Texas Governor Signs Bill to Allow Farmers To Legally Grow Hemp • High Times


Republican Governor Greg Abbot of Texas signed a bill on Monday that will allow farmers in the state to legally grow hemp. The measure, House Bill 1325 (HB1325), also removes hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances and legalizes cannabidiol, or CBD, and products made with the cannabinoid.

HB 1325 was passed by the Texas House of Representatives in April and approved by the state Senate the following month. The bill received unanimous support in both houses of the legislature.

New Opportunity for Farmers

Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, said in April that legalizing hemp will give the state’s farmers a new option for their operations.

“There’s no good reason for Texas farmers and ranchers not to have hemp as a crop option,” said Hall. “I suspect a lot of farmers will choose this option once it’s available. It’s a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown anywhere where cropping is prevalent right now.”

Before HB 1325 can go into effect, the state Department of Agriculture will have to create a hemp agriculture regulatory program including a system to license farmers who wish to grow the crop. The plan would then have to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval.

“Allowing the Texas Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp program here in Texas will give Texas farmers an exciting new opportunity to thrive — and that’s something everyone should get behind,” said state Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller while the bill was navigating its way through the legislature. “It is all about Texas farmers and ranchers and seeing them prosper.”

Hemp Agriculture Infrastructure Already Under Construction

Michael DeGiglio, the CEO of cannabis and produce cultivator Village Farms International, said in a press release that the company will be seeking regulatory approval from the state to grow hemp in Texas.

“The Governor’s signing of this bill into law formalizes a significant opportunity for Village Farms as a first mover in the Texas hemp industry and will allow us to capitalize on the expected demand for premium-grade hemp grown in controlled-environment facilities for the high-end health and wellness and the pharmaceutical industries,” said DeGiglio.

Anticipating the legalization of hemp in Texas, Village Farms has begun converting half of a 1.3 million square foot high-tech greenhouse facility in the state into a hemp cultivation and CBD extraction facility.

“Conversion of half of Permian Basin greenhouse in West Texas for hemp production is now well underway and we look forward to commencing production as soon as possible upon Texas establishing a licensing and regulatory framework for hemp and CBD,” DeGiglio said.





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Tuesday, June 11, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News


A zoomed-in view of the Mandelbrot Set.

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Congressional Committee Advances Psychedelics Amendment But Blocks Marijuana Proposal (Marijuana Moment)

// CBD company Green Growth Brands is taking over malls, to open 70 shops in Brookfield deal (CNBC)

// Marijuana Dispensary Says It Would Be Stifled By Proposal Requiring Majority Maine Ownership (Maine Public)


Today’s headlines are brought to you by our friends at the Om of Medicine medical marijuana provisioning center of Ann Arbor, Michigan. If you live in or around the Ann Arbor area, swing in and see why so many Michigan medical marijuana patients drive long distances by other shops to shop at the Om of Medicine.


// Nikki Fried names doctors, lawyers, patients to new Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee (Florida Politics

// Medical marijuana expansion plan delayed again, but it might be for a good reason (NJ.com)

// Church of England Wants to Invest Its $16 Billion Portfolio in Weed (Merry Jane)

// Ivey Signs Bill Creating Medical Marijuana Study Commission (U.S. News & World Report)

// Get tough: Pot industry wants LA crackdown on rogue shops (Sacramento Bee)

// Ontario issues call for edible, alternative marijuana products (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Smoke-Free Ontario Act to Keep Vapes Hidden at Cannabis Stores (Leafly)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Dominic Alves/Flickr



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The Winners of the 2019 Michigan Cannabis Cup • High Times


This past weekend at the Cannabis Cup was a blast! As always, we were excited to meet both veterans of the cannabis space and those who are fresh-faced and new. Everyone who entered the competition brought their best products and their A-Game. Without further ado, here are the winners of the 2019 Michigan Cannabis Cup:

Best Indica Flower

@dabhanna

1st Place: Mrs. Berry Kush – Triple OG
2nd Place: Exotic Genetix – falcon 9
3rd Place: Mrs. Berry Kush – Critical Kush

Best Sativa Flower

@dabhanna

1st Place: COCO Extracts – Tropicana Cookies
2nd Place: Kalamazoovines – White Lavender
3rd Place: Norse Pharms – Terpee Slurpee

Best Hybrid Flower

@dabhanna

1st Place: Exotic Genetix – Rainbow Chip
2nd Place: Pure Diem x Firehouse Farms – Sunset Sherbert
3rd Place: Special Blend Gardens – Melonade No.7

Best Preroll

@dabhanna

1st Place: Ript Genetics x Swish Dipz- Stank Breath pre roll
2nd Place: T.otally H.erbal C.are x MiterpfarmZ – Orange Zkittlez
3rd Place: Special Blend Gardens Rolled Up – OG Purple

Best Infused Product

@dabhanna

1st Place: Grateful Meds – 5 Layer Caviar Moonrock
2nd Place: Northern Connections – Liquid Loud Blue Razz
3rd Place: RR Luxury In A Puff – Luxury Pre-Rolled Cone

Best Edible

@dabhanna

1st Place: Zilla’s Performance Products – Strawberry Shorties
2nd Place: PB Cup Cheesecake – Afternoon Delite
3rd Place: Mitten Moms – Moms Banana Pudding

Best Vape Pen

@dabhanna

1st Place: Church Cannabis CO – Gods GIft Key Fob
2nd Place: Lemon Berry – Afternoon Delight
3rd Place: Shattered Thoughts – Purple Punch V Slim Pod

Best Indica Concentrate

@dabhanna

1st Place: CoCO Extracts – Green Fire OG
2nd Place: Grateful Meds – Forbidden Fruit htfse/hcfse live sauce
3rd Place: Jedi Kush by Michigan Extracts

Best Sativa Concentrate

@dabhanna

1st Place: Ghostbudsters Farm – Super Lemon Haze Live Resin
2nd Place: COCO Extracts – Tropic Berry OG Cake Batter
3rd Place: Pure Clouds- Bahama Mama THCA

Best Hybrid Concentrate

@dabhanna

1st Place: Legendary Gardenz x CoCo Extracts – Orange Cookie Badder
2nd Place: High Level Heath Michigan – Blue Skunk Live Butter
3rd Place: ArborSide Compassion x Fregrowli – Cherry Lime Haze

Best CBD Concentrate

@dabhanna

1st Place: Rogues Island Genetics X Something Bitter Concentrates Apple Pharm Live Resin
2nd Place: Lightsky Farm – cosmic jumper cables
3rd Place: Lightsky farms – Scandinavian Moose Lodge

Best Nonsolvent Concentrate

@dabhanna

1st Place: Ghostbudsters Farm x Covert Extracts – Mother’s Milk Live Rosin THCA with Terp Sauce
2nd Place: Wojo Wax – Cream D’mint Live rosin
3rd Place: Special Blend Rolled Up x Special Blend Gardens – Melonade No.7

Best CBD Vape Pen

@dabhanna

1st Place: Lightsky Farms – Moose Cookie
2nd Place: Lightsky Farms – Cosmic jumper Cables
3rd Place: Mary’s Medicinals – Distillate 3:1 Cbd: THc Pax Era Pod

Best CBD Edible

@dabhanna

1st Place: Great Lakes Extracts – Milk Chocolate Bar
2nd Place: Captain Kirk’s X Grumpy Beaar Farms X Pure West – Solar Soup
3rd Place: Smoking Lamp Extracts x Smoking Lamp Meds – CBD Strawberry Jam

Best Topical

@dabhanna

1st Place: Zilla’s Performance Products – Highly Effective Extra Strength Organic Healing Skin Treatment
2nd Place: Ella Essentials – Ella Essentials Cannabis Body Butter
3rd Place: Urban Roots X CoCo Extracts – Freeze Cannabis Lotion

Best CBD Flower

@dabhanna

1st Place: Kyle Gardner x First Class Gardens – Cannatonic #4
2nd Place: Rogue’s Island Genetics – Apple Pharm
3rd Place: Lightsky Farms Cosmic Jumper cables





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Nevada Prohibits Employment Discrimination Based on Cannabis Use • High Times


Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak of Nevada signed a bill on Friday that prohibits employers from denying jobs to applicants because of their legal marijuana use. Under the measure, Assembly Bill 132 (AB 132), employers would be banned from discriminating against prospective employees based on a positive result for marijuana use in a pre-employment drug screening or an applicant’s admission of legal cannabis use.

The bill was introduced in the Nevada State Assembly in February and passed by the body on April 23 by a vote of 33 to 8. AB 132 was then taken up by the state Senate and passed by a margin of 12 to 8 on May 24.

Stigma Persists Despite Legalization

“There’s still a stigma around cannabis, even though it is legal for medical and recreational use,” Kiera Sears, a consultant with the Joey Gilbert Law Firm in Reno, told local media.

Nevada voters legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in 2000, followed by the passage of a ballot initiative legalizing recreational cannabis use by adults that was approved in 2016 and went into effect on January 1, 2017. Legal sales of recreational cannabis began in the state on July 1, 2017.

AB 132 does not prohibit employers from administering drug tests to applicants, but they are not permitted to deny employment based solely on a positive result for cannabis. Once the bill becomes effective next year, applicants who believe they were discriminated against by a potential employer based on legal cannabis use would have to turn to the courts for relief, according to Sears.

“I did a pre-employment screening test and I tested positive and I didn’t get the job,” she hypothesized. “Then it becomes a legal issue of finding out why did the employer not hire this person?”

Employers Should Set Clear Policies

Sears said that to avoid potential litigation under the measure, employers should proactively set clear policies regarding cannabis use by applicants, employees, and in the workplace.

“Really work on your employment manual and really have a clear understanding that you can get to your employees so they understand your boundaries,” she recommended.

Sears also had words of advice for job hunters in the state.

“Be respectful,” she said. “Nevada has given people the opportunity to participate in the consumption of marijuana and that’s a privilege. We’ve gone against the federal government and we should not take that for granted.”

AB 132 is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020.





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Governor of Alabama Has Only Hours to Take Action on Medical Marijuana Bill


Update: As of five o’clock Eastern Standard Time, Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama has signed Senate Bill 236 into law.

Original: The governor of Alabama has to make a decision today about whether to sign into effect Senate Bill 236, a medical marijuana measure that has been weakened from its original version. In its final form, the legislation would extend access to cannabis oil for kids who experience seizures and create a commission to study medical marijuana and make recommendations to lawmakers on potential policy changes.

WHNT News 19 reported that Representative Mike Ball — who was instrumental in the initial passage of Carly’s Law, which guarantees access to kids who suffer seizures — told the channel he would be “shocked” if Governor Kay Ivey does not sign the bill.

The governor’s office has said Ivey is reviewing the bill. If she chooses not to sign it before 11:59 p.m. on Monday, it will die.

Though the bill was the subject of much floor debate, it passed the House with a whopping majority, 80-19, on May 31. “The opposition comes from people who practice politics in the name of religion,” said Ball.

Republican state senator Tim Melson was the legislation’s sponsor. He originally presented a version of the bill that would legalize the sale of medical marijuana for patients with sign off from a doctor.

“People realize we need to quit thinking everything’s wrong because it was taboo in the past,” he said after the bill got its final Senate approval. “It doesn’t mean we don’t need to be looking for the good in it.”

Alabama is a state that has long shown reluctance to enact marijuana regulation. Though Melson’s version passed the Senate, in the House it was watered down. The bill’s proponents accepted the dialing back of legalizing sales of medicinal cannabis for a list of 12 health conditions and the establishment of a patient ID system. The bill’s allowances reduced mainly to the establishment of the investigatory commission and the extension of the Carly’s Law study.

Advocates hoped that at least, the findings of the commission would provide groundwork to create future legislation — the legislation states that it would be required to submit recommendations by the beginning of December. The commission would be comprised of 15 members, including four doctors, three lawyers, and other appointees knowledgeable in mental health and the business community.

“We were about to make a big step,” said Ball. “Had it not been blocked we would have, it would have been a big step. But now, it’s a baby step,”

In 2017, Ivey’s office declined to answer questions on Ivey’s views on cannabis for NORML; “We have no statement on marijuana [nor] has the Governor made any statement on marijuana.”

It wouldn’t be accurate, however, to say that Alabama has made no progress on marijuana laws, even if Ivey declines to sign this latest piece of legislation. In April, the state’s most populated county decided to stop arresting people for nonviolent misdemeanors.

That news was particularly significant given findings that law enforcement disproportionately targets Black Alabamans for cannabis-related crimes.

Though the state lags behind many in its regulation of cannabis, its marijuana advocates are convinced that education is the key to progress. ”Any time that we’ve progressed it’s fear and ignorance, is what we have to overcome,” said Ball.





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Medical marijuana does not reduce opioid deaths — ScienceDaily


Legalizing medical marijuana does not reduce the rate of fatal opioid overdoses, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The finding contradicts a 2014 study that legal-pot advocates, public officials and even physicians have touted as a reason to legalize marijuana. That study found lower rates of fatal opioid overdoses in the states that had legalized marijuana for medical purposes than in states where marijuana remained illegal.

The Stanford study, which revisited the issue after many more states had legalized medical marijuana, found no evidence of a connection between opioid deaths and the availability of medical cannabis, said Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

“If you think opening a bunch of dispensaries is going to reduce opioid deaths, you’ll be disappointed,” Humphreys said. “We don’t think cannabis is killing people, but we don’t think it’s saving people.”

A paper describing the new study will be published online June 10 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Humphreys is the senior author. The lead author is postdoctoral scholar Chelsea Shover, PhD.

Medical pot now legal in 47 states

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. By 2010, 13 states, most of them in the West, had legalized medical marijuana. Today, 47 states permit some version of medical pot.

For the new study, the Stanford researchers used the same method employed in the 2014 study to evaluate the connection between legalized medical marijuana and fatal opioid overdoses. They confirmed the findings from the 2014 study, but when they looked at opioid deaths up to 2017 — by which point most states had legalized some form of medical marijuana, if not recreational marijuana — they found that the opposite was true: States with legal medical marijuana had a higher rate of deaths due to opioid overdose.

After the 2014 study was released, medical marijuana proponents and some public officials interpreted the results to mean that, given access to legalized pot, people would turn to it rather than opioids for pain relief or recreation. Yet when the Stanford researchers compared states that have more restrictive medical marijuana laws with those that allow recreational marijuana, they found no correlation between opioid overdose mortality and the level of restriction.

“Accounting for different types of laws didn’t change the bottom line,” Shover said.

Also, given that only 2.5% of the U.S. population uses medical marijuana, it’s unlikely that use could affect mortality statistics, the researchers said.

‘Something else about those states’

Humphreys said the results of the 2014 study may have reflected policies and conditions in states that legalized medical marijuana early. Those states tended to be wealthier and more politically liberal, with greater access to addiction treatment and to naloxone, which reverses the effects of opioids and can prevent overdose fatalities. The states that legalized pot early also incarcerate fewer people for drug use, Humphreys added. When people are released from prison, where they lack access to drugs and lose tolerance to them, they may try to use the same levels as they did before they were incarcerated, leading to overdose.

The finding of lower death rates “wasn’t about the cannabis,” Humphreys said. “It was something else about those states.”

Humphreys and Shover said they believe that medical marijuana provides benefits and that research into its effectiveness should continue.

“There are valid reasons to pursue medical cannabis policies, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them,” Shover said. “I urge researchers and policymakers to focus on other ways to reduce mortality due to opioid overdoses.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Stanford Medicine. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.



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