The benefits of cannabis use are many, and are as varied as the types of people who benefit from the plant. Not a week goes by anymore without at least one headline about another person, young or old, who claims that marijuana saved their life.
In a groundbreaking report just published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from the University of Colorado, scouring state-level suicide data over a 17-year period, may have proven that legalizing marijuana may be saving more lives than we think.
Looking at suicide rates from 1990-2007, the researchers focused on the 12 states that enacted some form of marijuana legalization in that time period, and compared that data to states where weed remained illegal.
Basically, what they found was in states where weed had been legalized on some level, suicide rates were 10.8% lower for men in their 20’s, and 9.4% lower for men in their 30’s, when compared to the same stats in states where it was still a crime.
In the report, the researchers conclude, “The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events.”
Another comparison can be drawn here. Completely legal and man-made prescription drugs, particularly those used during “stressfull life events” such as anti-depressants, have been shown to have such a direct link to increased thoughts of suicide, they now print it on every label!
Dr. David Healy, co-founder of RxISK.org and renowned psychopharmacologist, says that these suicidal thoughts can invade a person’s psyche within just two weeks of beginning a physician-prescribed anti-depressant regimen. Raising or lowering dosage, adding another drug into the mix, or attempting to stop dosage altogether often trigger such thoughts as well. Kind of a shit-sandwich there.
The study’s conclusions were solid when it came to males, legal weed, and suicide, but the data was much less applicable when researchers set their sights on women.
Daniel Rees, co-author of the study, seemed perplexed by the jumbled information gathered on females, after such conclusive evidence when studying males. He told the Huffington Post, “The estimates for females were less precise and sensitive to model specification.”
“Females could respond to marijuana differently than males. Females could respond to alcohol differently than males. It’s even possible that they respond to legalization differently than males,” robotically recited Rees.
Cannabis reform has come a long way since 2007. These days, with 20 states and the District of Colombia boasting some form of marijuana legalization, and 12 more looking to break through in the near future, more and more citizens will have a safer alternative than poison prescription drugs, and we should continue to see suicide rates drop, hopefully across all age groups and genders.