Colorado’s opioid deaths have declined since marijuana legalization, study finds

(Photo by David Downs)

Legal pot has likely saved lives from opiate overdoses in Colorado, new research suggests.

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health found a drop in deaths related to opioid drugs after Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use.

“After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following two years,” wrote authors Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar.

The researchers from the University of North Texas, University of Florida, and Emory University were the first to look into the link between opiates and recreational use, although prior studies have observed similar results in states that only allow medical access.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association observed a 25 percent drop in opioid deaths where states legalized medical cannabis, while a 2015 Columbia University study found that smoking medicinal pot helped to reduce the severity of withdrawals and other symptoms related to abusing heroin or prescription…

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