According to current research “There is very weak evidence to support the claim that expanding access to medical cannabis will reduce opioid overdose deaths in the United States.”
• A recent study found that before 2009, the existence of legally protected pot dispensaries in a state correlates with a lower number of opiate deaths in that state.
• This correlation disappears after 2009. Authors interpret this as the “post-Ogden memo era” and surmise that pot dispensaries were more strictly controlled after 2009.
• The study does not control for naloxone distribution as a reason for a reduction in opiate mortality, and it is highly dubious to assume pot shops became less widespread and more controlled after 2009. Indeed, after 2009, pot shop regulations remained extremely lax, and the number of pot shops exploded in response to the industry protections in the Ogden memo.
• Multiple studies have shown no substitution between opiates and marijuana and no reduction in opiate use by those who also use marijuana. Studies also show a higher dosing of opiates/greater likelihood of opiate abuse in patients who also use cannabis.
Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK Search for more papers by this author There is very weak evidence to support the claim that expanding access to medical cannabis will reduce opioid overdose deaths in the United States.
• Beware of interpretations of the RAND study that claim it proves medical marijuana reduces opioid deaths; RAND will be debunking this presently.
• Population ecology studies like the RAND study need to be confirmed with studies of individual users; current individual user studies have the opposite conclusion.
• A study of over 34,000 individual marijuana users showed they were over 2 times more likely to abuse prescription opioids or initiate prescription opioid misuse