As the USA gains more experience with legal medical marijuana there are some interesting statistics beginning to emerge. Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and research from the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center indicate a statistically significant 25% reduction in deaths due to prescription painkillers in states where medical marijuana is legalised. Although painkillers are generally regarded as safe, critics comment that they are over-prescribed and on a national level result in numerous deaths. Stronger prescription medicines such as opiates carry a whole range of complications; they are addictive and carry a significant risk of overdose. Cannabis on the other hand is impossible to overdose on and many say it is a far more versatile medicine with uses in numerous medical applications. In addition, it can be grown completely organically for almost zero cost.
The study has taken the data from prescription overdose deaths from medical marijuana states and non medical states. The remarkable study will no doubt be the first of many such studies that are becoming possible now scientists are able to sample state-wide data. The conclusion of the study, in their own words is this
"Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. Further investigation is required to determine how medical cannabis laws may interact with policies aimed at preventing opioid analgesic overdose.”
The original study is here, from the Journal of American Medicine, and a more in-depth analysis is given in the International Business Times
August 29th 2014