Sure, bridge-blocking narc Chris Christie found the one study that suggests cannabis legalization does not reduce illicit opioid abuse, but the Kilimanjaro-sized pile of evidence to the contrary is only growing larger.
Published in Substance Use & Misuse, the study "Cannabis Use is Associated with Lower Odds of Prescription Opioid Analgesic Use Among HIV-Infected Individuals with Chronic Pain" pretty much says it all in the title. The researchers "explored patterns of use of cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs in HIV-infected people with chronic pain who were prescribed opioid analgesics," and they collected self-reported data reflecting their last 30 days of using, which included the following:
- 47 percent of HIV patients with chronic pain reported current opioid use
- 64 percent reported the use of illicit drugs
- 39 percent of the illicit-drug use involved cannabis
Out of all the illicit drug use, "only cannabis use was significantly associated with lower odds of prescribed opioid analgesic use." Hence, the researchers argued, "New medical cannabis legislation might reduce the need for opioid analgesics for pain management, which could help to address adverse events associated with opioid analgesic use."
Another study in the Journal of Health Economics went so far as to say dispensaries literally save lives. The study, which received funding from the previously anti-cannabis National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), said, "The key feature of a medical marijuana law that facilitates a reduction in overdose death rates is a relatively liberal allowance for dispensaries. As states have become more stringent in their regulation of dispensaries, the protective value generally has fallen. These findings suggest that broader access to medical marijuana facilitates substitution of marijuana for powerful and addictive opioids."
Likewise, a new study on cannabis and cancer in the European Journal of Internal Medicine suggested that cannabis can help prevent opioid abuse by decreasing the need to take the pharmaceuticals. The study noted, "Cannabis as a palliative treatment for cancer patients seems to be well tolerated, effective and safe option to help patients cope with the malignancy related symptoms." Likewise, the lead researcher told Rolling Stone, "Cannabis is a very good alternative to reduce opioid consumption, to increase quality of life, and to reduce pain, nausea and vomiting."
In other related cannabis-opioid news, a drug rehabilitation center in Maine now utilizes cannabis and kratom to treat opioid addiction, while a Claremont McKenna College paper argued that cannabis legalization in Washington "prevented 638 [opioid] overdose deaths and led to over 3,600 individuals seeking treatment for opioid abuse disorders" in the state. Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton tweeted last month that "marijuana can be a lifesaving alternative to opioids," and with New York state lawmakers looking to add opioid addiction to its list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell said, "We have an opioid crisis and people are dying and [medical cannabis] may be a path to keep people from dying and keep them from relapsing."
On the other end of the spectrum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently claimed that increased support for cannabis legalization caused a spike in opioid overdose deaths. Of course, Sessions failed to support his dubious claim with evidence, and he is not exactly the dude you want on your team at a science fair competition.