Opioid Deaths Dropped In Colorado After Marijuana Legalization


Marijuana legalization has been a hot-button topic, as it’s incredibly popular on the ground and widely loathed in the halls of power. But the main question has been, will it cause problems, or solve them? We’re beginning to see an answer in Colorado.

A study conducted by University of North Texas researchers compared opioid-related deaths over time in Colorado, looking specifically at not just how many deaths there were in a given year, but the overall trend. The results? While there’s not a clear link, they are fascinating:

Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month (b = −0.68; 95% confidence interval = −1.34, −0.03) reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.

This may be unconnected, it should be noted, to marijuana legalization. This is just a correlation, and a whole host of things might have changed the slope and direction. Still, it does go against the narrative that marijuana is a “gateway drug” to some degree, which is part of the narrative of anti-legalization advocates. And it pairs interestingly with other research like, for example, a study that demonstrates doctors and patients view medical marijuana as medicine, not a ticket to a party. Although admittedly that Hall and Oates song is really funny.

We should also remember that doctors are skeptical of both marijuana and opioids as a panacea to our nation’s problems with pain management. That’s a much more complicated issue, one that may take decades of research to fully figure out. In the meantime, it’s worth looking at how recreational marijuana is unfolding, especially as more states look into decriminalization and legalization.

(via The Denver Channel)