Powerful Study Finds Marijuana Dispensaries Are Literally Saving Lives


It’s no secret that the country is in a deep painkiller epidemic. Statistics show that over the past 15 years, there has been an unbelievable rise in both the sales of pharmaceutical opiates and the number of people who die each year from abusing them. According to the Center For Disease Control, in  2013, more than 16,000 people overdosed and died on prescription painkillers, making up for 60{f1d755e3d686d84b3fba3fb9da3bc25d6eb08724c18385fd50146d58c836a6dd} of all overdose deaths. Many skeptics have feared that the legalization of marijuana and the easy accessibility to it would cause a similar epidemic, but a new study has shown that some legal states are lowering their painkiller statistics simply by making cannabis easier to get.

According to an article in UPI, researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of California-Irvine looked at states that had legalized marijuana in the years following their legislation passing and their statistics with regards to fatal overdoses and addiction treatment center admissions relating to opioid abuse. The researchers found that these states had “significant reductions in both measures of opioid misuse — but only if they had also legalized marijuana dispensaries.”

It seems the dispensary issue is an important one because, in the six states where doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana, but where retail dispensaries are prohibited, the study found “no evidence” of “reductions in substance abuse or mortality.” But in the 18 states where medical marijuana shops are allowed, there was a 16{f1d755e3d686d84b3fba3fb9da3bc25d6eb08724c18385fd50146d58c836a6dd} reduction in “opioid-related mortality” and a 28{f1d755e3d686d84b3fba3fb9da3bc25d6eb08724c18385fd50146d58c836a6dd} reduction in opioid-abuse treatment admissions.

The study also found no decline in the distribution of legal opioid painkillers in states with dispensaries. That led researchers to suggest that the reduction in painkiller abuse in these states “comes less from patients switching their prescriptions, than from people who were taking illegally obtained opioids replacing the drugs with legal weed. In other words — the findings suggest that dispensaries may have saved the lives of some recreational pill-poppers, who quit hard drugs once they got a pot prescription.”

The UPI article also points out that chronic marijuana use has some potential harm attached to it. Some studies have found that it may lead to memory loss and amotivational disorder. But no one has ever died from smoking too much weed. So does the solution to the nation’s opioid epidemic lie within legal marijuana dispensaries? According to this eye-opening study, they just might.


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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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  1. “…the findings suggest that dispensaries may have saved the lives of some recreational pill-poppers, who quit hard drugs once they got a pot prescription.”

    If these people traded illegal opioid use for pot prescriptions, then their “pill-popping” was not “recreational;” it was necessary pain relief and addiction.

  2. I was at 240mgs. of OxyContin, legally. Spent years in pain mgt. for a spinal injury. Started smoking cannabis and cold-turkeyed the opioids. Been many years now. I believe cannabis has saved my life. You think a joint causes Amotivational disorders? Try three 80mg pills of OxyContin per day

      1. Yes. I have a rare form of rheumatism that can be completely debilitating when flared up and the pain is excruciating. Cannabis can actually replace the DMARDS some take, provide extremely restorative sleep (one of the best pain management activities), ease the overall pain and make things more manageable. The most incredible benefit I’ve experienced was using the extract. It took less than 45 minutes to pretty much eradicate a full body flare up. The next morning I could’ve ran a marathon I felt so good.

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