Study: Fatal Accidents Less Likely to Involve Opiate Use in MMJ States

A Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study has found that drivers in states with medical marijuana programs were less likely to test positive for opioids after fatal car accidents, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

“In states with medical marijuana laws, fewer individuals are using opioids,” the authors concluded in the study published in the American Journal of Public Health, which analyzed federal crash data in 18 states from 1999 to 2013.

June H. Kim, the study’s lead author, said the results of the study are not unexpected.

“We would expect the adverse consequences of opioid use to decrease over time in states where medical marijuana use is legal, as individuals substitute marijuana for opioids in the treatment of severe or chronic pain,” Kim said in the report.

In the analysis, the greatest reduction of opioid involvement in fatal car accidents was among drivers aged 21 to 40, who are most likely to use medical marijuana in state’s where it is available. The study adds to a growing body of academic work suggesting medical marijuana is an effective alternative to combatting opioid use. A paper published in Health Affairs found that physicians in legal states write 1,826 fewer doses of opioid-based painkiller per year.

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