Week after week, we report on headlines and stories regarding the many, many potential health benefits there are to responsible cannabis use. From epilepsy to cancer, and from ADD to PTSD, cannabis, in many cases we are told, can possibly cure them all.
Reactions to these headlines usually bounce back and forth between the anti-cannabis crowd saying something like, “No way…” to the pro-pot people saying, “Holy shit!” But the results of a study just published in JAMA Internal Medicine have merged the two reactions into a pretty universal reply of “No shit!”
In the report published yesterday, researchers have concluded that states that have legalized medical marijuana use have anywhere from 20-33% lower rates of death due to overdosing on prescription pills.
This is not just some insignificant facet of an overarching trend either. In fact, between 1999 and 2011, death rates due to pain pill overdose have shot up over 118%. Just not in the weed-friendly regions of the country where states begin seeing drastic drops in overdose deaths within just a year of allowing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
You don’t need a medical degree to see why this is the case, but the study’s lead author, Dr. Marcus Bachhuber stated the obvious by saying, “We think that people with chronic pain may be choosing to treat their pain with marijuana rather than with prescription painkillers, in states where this is legal.”
Unfortunately, even given the lower numbers in weed-friendly states, the number of deaths due to prescription pill abuse remains on the rise in every state in the nation.
The fact that the statistics are decidedly lower in states with viable medical marijuana laws is strengthened by the data that the longer the state’s medical marijuana laws have been in effect, the more they buck the trend.
The study says that during its research period, marijuana may have spared as many as 1,729 deaths due to opioid abuse.
In Florida, a state embroiled in back-and-forth debates over medical marijuana legislation, the powers that be should probably start to pay attention to these statistics. Currently, the stat that Florida is better known for is the fact that doctors in the Sunshine State prescribe TEN TIMES MORE oxycodone pills to the public than the doctors in every other state put together.
A closer look reveals that the ten states writing the most pain pill prescriptions are all in the South, the region of the country most resistant to reforming antiquated pot laws.
Other, more traditional, methods of lowering the growing overdose death rate have shown positive results as well – just not with as much success as with weed.
The study showed that new programs designed to regulate the distribution of prescription narcotics, combined with new programs put in place to supervise pain management clinics, along with tougher rules requiring photo ID to be shown to pick up prescriptions, led to a potential drop of just over 16% combined in the overdose death rate.
Over 100 million Americans are said to be afflicted with chronic pain.
46 people die every single day from pain pill overdoses.
5000 years of cannabis use by mankind with exactly zero deaths by overdose.
This really is pretty simple math.