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Sheena Harrison

Study finds possible link between medical marijuana, decrease in opioid overdoses

August 28, 2014 - 3:45pm


Workers compensation payers concerned about the potential of medical marijuana popping up in comp claims might be intrigued by a new study that suggests marijuana usage can help limit overdoses from another medication that has caused problems for injured workers -- opioids.

A study published Monday by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that states with medical marijuana laws, such as Colorado, showed a 24.8% lower rate of deaths caused by both illegal and prescription opioids than states without medical marijuana provisions.

Opioid overdose morality rates continued to decline over time after medical marijuana laws were introduced in various states, the study said.

“In summary, although we found a lower mean annual rate of opioid analgesic mortality in states with medical cannabis laws, a direct causal link cannot be established. … If the relationship between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality is substantiated in further work, enactment of laws to allow for use of medical cannabis may be advocated as part of a comprehensive package of policies to reduce the population risk of opioid analgesics,” the report reads.