Painkiller Deaths Down in States where Medical Marijuana is Legalized


The list of side effects from pharmaceutical painkillers is nothing new. Many people form addictions to these painkillers, particularly those who suffer from chronic pain. Painkiller deaths can be relatively common –though the number of deaths has dropped by approximately 25% in states where medical marijuana is legal. A recent study from the JAMA Internal Medicine journal focused on this very issue.

The study revealed a particular benefit found within the states where medical cannabis is now legal. That benefit being that there are fewer deaths related to pharmaceutical painkiller usage, which suggests that many people who would rely on big pharmaceutical companies for pain relief are now turning to cannabis, which is considered significantly safer when compared to painkillers.

The Study

The study analyzes the number of pharmaceutical-related deaths in the 13 states where medical marijuana is legal and has been since before 2010, compared to the states where it is still prohibited. The results are that the states where cannabis is legal has 25% less opioid mortality, which is approximately 1700 fewer painkiller deaths in 2010 alone.

Opioid-related deaths are still on the rise across the U.S., however, some of this has to do with new painkillers entering the market. There is still the issue of how to deal with chronic pain and not all doctors have a clear solution on how to treat it amongst their patients.

Percocet and OxyContin are considered deadly drugs, particularly when overused. Medical marijuana can offer better pain relief without delivering the harmful side effects that occur from prescription painkillers.

Researchers from John Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania were responsible for leading the study. They found that 60% of the deaths from opioid overdoses occurred in patients who had legitimate prescriptions. Many make the assumption that it is because people are finding the drugs on the streets and this simply isn’t the case in most instances. These kind of dangers are not found with cannabis use.

Pharmaceuticals are Killing Americans

Some people see marijuana as a “gateway” drug that will ultimately lead to the use of harder drugs. However, cannabis is an herb, not a drug. The data within the study shows that the real “gateway” drug may be what the pharmaceutical companies are creating. This could eventually lead people to the hard drugs that are out there, such as heroin.

There have been multiple cases of this. For example, the late actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, slipped back into a heroin habit that he had nearly two decades ago and had been clean from. His gateway drug was not cannabis. They were prescription painkillers, which are highly addictive. Many Americans continue to take prescription drugs and along the way of attempting to feel better, they end up abusing them.

There are more and more risks associated with prescription drugs and this study has helped to bring a lot of this to light. Medical marijuana is legal in many states and is giving people another option when they want to overcome pain without having to deal with the harmful and sometimes fatal side effects that come from prescription painkillers.

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