This week, a study by researchers in Oregon and California added to the foundation of data countering efforts by the marijuana industry and its promoters to paint marijuana legalization as a solution to the opioid epidemic.
The study used opioid mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to compare trends in opioid death rates in states “legalizing” marijuana in both “recreational” and “medicinal” uses. In total, the study found 78% of “legal” states experienced significantly higher rates of opioid-related deaths after legalization than states that have not legalized the drug.
“With each day, more data comes to light proving that expanding access and use of marijuana is a net negative in terms of public health and safety,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Lawmakers are running far ahead of the science. The body of evidence on this subject builds a solid case that marijuana legalization has a negative impact on opioid abuse.”
Earlier this year, a study from Stanford University researchers expanded a highly touted 2014 study claiming marijuana legalization was linked with a 25% reduction in opioid mortality. The Stanford researchers found that when the study was extended to include states legalizing marijuana between 2010 and 2017, marijuana legalization was associated with a 25% increase in opioid fatalities.
Additionally, a study released this year in Substance Use and Addiction, a JAMA-related publication, concluded “medical marijuana law enactment was not associated with a reduction in individual-level non-medical opioid abuse, contradicting the hypothesis that people would substitute marijuana for prescription opioids.”
“For too long, we have allowed Big Marijuana to expand, against the urgings of almost every major medical association and public safety organization,” continued Dr. Sabet. “With this addiction epidemic raging, and deaths associated with marijuana vaping continuing to mount, it’s time to abandon the failed experiment of legalization.”