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: History Of Marijuana Use Inversely Associated With In-Hospital Mortality

COLORADO: Hospitalized patients who test positive for cannabis are less likely than non-users to suffer from heart failure or cardiac disease, and are less likely to die from cancer, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Cancer Medicine.

A team of researchers from the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, and the University of Alabama assessed the relationship between marijuana use and health outcomes among a nationwide sample of 3.9 million hospitalized patients.

Researchers reported that marijuana-positive patients were more likely than non-users to seek hospitalization for stroke, but that they possessed lower odds of heart failure or cardiac disease, and that they possessed increased survival rates overall – especially among those patients with cancer. Authors concluded, “Odds of in-hospital mortality were significantly reduced among marijuana users compared with non-users in all hospitalized patients as well as cancer patients.”

Separate data, presented in April at the 2016 meeting of the American College of Cardiology, reported that heart attack patients with a history of cannabis use are less likely than non-users to die during hospitalization. A 2014 UCLA study similarly reported greater survival rates in marijuana-positive patients hospitalized for Traumatic Brain Injury.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Marijuana use and inpatient outcomes among hospitalized patients: analysis of the nationwide inpatient sample database,” appears in Cancer Medicine.

Marijuana Does Not Affect Brain Volume, Study Finds

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Using marijuana does not cause changes in brain volume, a new study suggests.

Public health experts have cited concerns that using marijuana could be associated with structural changes in the brain. However, a new trial comparing the brains of marijuana users and non-users to their siblings reveals that marijuana use likely does not cause changes in brain volume.

In the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, researchers looked at a large group of siblings ages 22 to 35. Of the 483 people, 262 reported ever using marijuana, even just once. The researchers then split the men and women into groups: sibling pairs who had never used marijuana, sibling pairs where both had reported using marijuana, and sibling pairs where one had used marijuana and one had not. Overall, they noticed that people who reported using marijuana had smaller volumes in certain parts of the brain—like the left amygdala, which is involved in emotional processing. However, these differences still fell within a range of volume that is considered normal.

Marijuana Tourists Sparking Up In Colorado’s Ski Towns

COLORADO:  Tourists are buying up to 90% of the recreational pot sold in some Colorado ski towns, according to a new state analysis that says those visitors are pouring tens of millions of dollars into a marijuana economy that’s far larger than first predicted.

The study prepared for state marijuana regulators says about 9% of Colorado residents are using marijuana at least once a month, and that previous estimates dramatically under counted the amount of marijuana consumed by heavy users. The study, released Wednesday, says 22% of users consume about 70% of the pot sold in Colorado, defining a heavy user as someone consuming a gram or more a day at least 21 days monthly.

The study also says Colorado residents will consume about 121.4 metric tons annually, while tourists will buy nearly 9 metric tons. A study by state tax officials earlier this year estimated the market at just 92 metric tons, and a separate study released last year estimated the market at 64 metric tons.