States that legalize recreational marijuana experience a short-term decrease in opioid-related emergency room visits, a new study finds. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh analyzed emergency department data from 29 states between 2011 and 2017. Four of the states included in the study passed recreational marijuana legalization during that period, and the team compared their rates of opioid-related visits to the others. They observed a 7.6 percent reduction in opioid-related visits to the ER in the six months following the law going into effect, though the numbers returned to pre-legalization levels after that period. Legalizing recreational marijuana may help combat the opioid epidemic. Researchers found that in the six months following legalization, opioid hospitalizations decreased by nearly 8% Men aged 25 to 44 were the biggest beneficiaries of the legalization of recreational marijuana, as their rates of hospitalization for opioids decreased by nearly 12% ‘This isn’t trivial – a decline in opioid-related emergency department visits, even if only for six months, is a welcome public health development,’ said Dr Coleman Drake, lead author of the study and assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management. ‘But that being said, while cannabis liberalization may offer some help in curbing the opioid epidemic, it’s likely not a panacea.’

Mansur Shaheen, Daily Mail, 07/12/2021 16:00:00

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