Legalization saves lives in Colorado


Thor Benson /  Cannabis News Box Contributor

Studies have previously shown legalizing medical cannabis can help reduce the number of people using and dying from the abuse of opioids, and it looks like Colorado is proving social use cannabis legalization can have a similar effect.

New research published in the American Journal of Public Health shows opioid-related deaths decreased by over 6 percent in the first two years following Colorado fully legalizing cannabis.

As the Washington Post notes, many find cannabis is useful for treating pain, like opioids, so it appears some are choosing the safer option by using cannabis instead of addictive drugs. Considering the country is facing an opioid epidemic, this is an important reason for public health officials to consider supporting legalization.

“Marijuana and its infused products are obviously providing an alternative for opioids in certain situations,” Art Way, state directors of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Colorado office, told Cannabis News Box. “This report reveals a benefit to public health once marijuana is made more available to civilians.”

There’s still more research to be done, but this study is showing promising results. The more alternatives people can find to highly addictive opioids, the fewer people we’ll have dying while simply trying to treat their pain.

“Those in pain or in need of some form of relief should be allowed to medicate in a fashion they find most beneficial,” Way said. “One day soon we may have a system where marijuana and its infused products are actually prescribed and subsequently paid for by healthcare providers.”

Considering California is about to become the biggest social use market in the country, it’s likely we’ll see even larger effects related to opioid deaths. Politicians who have been skeptical about legalizing cannabis may have to reconsider their positions if they care about fighting rampant opioid abuse around the country.