A number of studies like the one here have time and again hinted towards the fact that opioid death rates are lower at places where marijuana is legal.
The same inference has been corroborated by a new study published in the journal Economic Inquiry. By comparing rates of overdose deaths before and after the legalization of adult-use weed, the authors of the latest study found “a highly robust causal effect” in opioid mortality reduction.
Their calculations place the death reduction rate in the range of 20%-35%, with the effects particularly pronounced for deaths caused by fentanyl, the US’s deadliest synthetic opioid.
“You know the opioid epidemic has been surging in recent years,” lead author Nathan Chan, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told a leading news agency. “Everybody’s affected, but the states that have legalized are not as adversely affected as those that haven’t.”
“The act of legalizing the drug isn’t what produces the benefit. Rather the states that have legal access through dispensaries is what has seen the largest reduction in mortality,” the study authors wrote.
Although the study didn’t take into account the factors that were at play, the authors suggested that it could be that a growing number of people are self-medicating and “relieving pain via marijuana use, and thus they’re less likely to consume addictive opioids.”
Another alternative hypothesis says that weed legalization boosts a state’s economic activity and employment, and reduces the crime rate and incarceration, allowing people to lead better, more positive lives, which is less-dependent on opioids.
You can read more about the study on this link.