Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths in states allowing medical marijuana

Date:
August 25, 2014
Source:
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
On average, states allowing the medical use of marijuana have lower rates of deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses than states without such laws. Opioid analgesics, such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, are prescribed for moderate to severe pain, and work by suppressing a person’s perception of pain.

On average, states allowing the medical use of marijuana have lower rates of deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses than states without such laws. Opioid analgesics, such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, are prescribed for moderate to severe pain, and work by suppressing a person's perception of pain. A new multi-institutional study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, examined the rate of deaths caused by opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2010. Results reveal that on average, the 13 states allowing the use of medical marijuana had a 24.8 percent lower annual opioid overdose mortality rate after the laws were enacted than states without the laws, indicating that the alternative treatment may be safer for patients suffering from chronic pain related to cancer and other conditions.

Related Articles


Approximately 60 percent of all deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses occur in patients who have legitimate prescriptions. Additionally, the proportion of patients in the United States who are prescribed opioids for non-cancer pain has almost doubled over the past decade, indicating the need to do a more focused examination on the safety and efficacy of these and other treatment options. In states allowing the use of medical cannabis, the drugs may be prescribed as an alternative to opioids.

While noting that evidence for the pain-relieving properties of cannabis is limited, some studies have suggested "it may provide relief for some individuals," said lead author, Marcus A. Bachhuber, MD, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Penn and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. "In addition, people already taking opioids for pain may supplement with medical marijuana and be able to lower their painkiller dose, thus lowering their risk of overdose.

Additional results of the study show that the relationship between lower opioid overdose deaths and medical marijuana laws strengthened over time; deaths were nearly 20 percent lower in the first year after a state's law was implemented, and 33.7 percent lower five years after implementation. While safer treatment of chronic pain may help to explain lower rates of overdose deaths, medical marijuana laws may also change the way people misuse or abuse opioid painkillers, as marijuana and opioids stimulate similar areas in the brain's pathways. The authors suggest that as more states implement medical marijuana laws, future studies should examine the association between such laws and opioid overdoses to confirm their findings.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marcus A. Bachhuber, Brendan Saloner, Chinazo O. Cunningham, Colleen L. Barry. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.4005

Cite This Page:

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths in states allowing medical marijuana." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825185315.htm>.
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. (2014, August 25). 25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths in states allowing medical marijuana. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825185315.htm
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths in states allowing medical marijuana." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825185315.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins