Study: Marijuana Dispensaries Associated With Localized Reductions In Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

CALIFORNIA: Counties that permit the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries possess reduced rates of opioid-related mortality, according to the findings of an academic research paper published on the SSRN online network.

Researchers from Claremont McKenna College in California, the University of Georgia, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock assessed the localized impact of dispensary operations on opioid-related mortality.

Authors reported, “[W]ithin MCL (medical cannabis law)-adopting states, counties with dispensaries experience six percent to eight percent fewer opioid-related deaths among non-Hispanic white men, while mortality due to heroin overdose declines by more than ten percent.”

They concluded, “Extrapolating our results implies that, for every 100,000 non-Hispanic white men, 10 fewer opioid-induced fatalities would have occurred between 2009 and 2015 if dispensaries were present and operating in every county within each MCL state.”

Prior studies have consistently identified a relationship between legal cannabis access and reduced levels of opioid-related abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The effect of medical cannabis dispensaries on opioid and heroin overdose mortality,” appears online. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids,” is online.

Study: Marijuana Dispensaries Associated With Declining Rates Of Painkiller Abuse

GEORGIA: Cannabis dispensaries are associated with reduced levels of opioid-related treatment admissions and overall drug mortality, according to a study published online on SSRN.com.

A University of Georgia economics professor assessed the relationship between the opening of medical cannabis dispensaries and drug treatment admissions.

Dispensary openings are associated with “a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment over the first two-years of dispensary operations,” the study reported. This correlation was strongest among non-Hispanic white males in their thirties.

Dispensary openings also resulted in fewer drug-related mortalities per 100,000 people.

The author concludes, “[T]he unintended beneficial effects of allowing for marijuana dispensary operations should be considered by policymakers as they aim to curtail narcotic abuse and limit the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

The paper’s findings are similar to prior studies reporting that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid abuse and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The effect of medical marijuana dispensaries on adverse opioid outcomes,” appears online.

Early Marijuana Sales Bill For Oregon Signed By Kate Brown

OREGON:  Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation Tuesday allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon to begin limited pot sales to adult consumers on Oct. 1.

Under Senate Bill 460, over-21 consumers will be able to buy up to a quarter-ounce of dried marijuana per day at dispensaries, as well as seeds and up to four immature plants.

This will be the first time that marijuana dispensaries can sell at all to people who don’t have a medical marijuana card. Supporters of the measure argued that the state should get a quick start on sales to divert traffic from the black market — and dispensary owners also said they were anxious to move into recreational marijuana sales because the market is over-saturated on the medical marijuana side.

Under the temporary sales program, there will be no tax on products until Jan. 4.  At that point there will be a 25 percent sales tax.