Study Finds Recreational Legalization May Reduce Opioid Overdose Fatalities

Study Finds Recreational Legalization May Reduce Opiate Overdose Fatalities

Flickr / Marco Verch / CC BY 2.0

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Colorado saw a reduction in the number of opioid overdose fatalities after enacting recreational legalization.

Medical marijuana has often been touted as a solution to the opioid epidemic sweeping across the nation and some studies have found evidence to support this claim, but this is the first time that a study has found that recreational legalization may also have an impact.

According to The Washington Post, the researchers avoided conflicting results by examining monthly opioid overdose fatalities in Colorado before and after legalizing recreational marijuana and compared them to opioid fatalities in Nevada, which had yet to legalize recreational marijuana.

After also taking into account a change Colorado’s prescription-drug-monitoring program, which required all opioid prescribers to register with the state but not necessarily participate in the program, researchers found that the state saw approximately a 6.5% reduction in opioid overdose fatalities from 2014 to 2016.

Stressing that the results are still preliminary, researchers are urging lawmakers to continue to monitor the statistics and hope to see their methods replicated in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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