access to marijuana dispensaries
access to marijuana dispensaries

New Study Says Access To MMJ Dispensaries Saves Lives

Access to a Marijuana Dispensary Could Save Your Life Someday

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Wednesday Feb 7, 2018

New Study Says Access To MMJ Dispensaries Saves Lives

Access to Marijuana Dispensaries Saves Lives Says New Study from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


A new study published online this weekend by the Journal of Health Economics says that in states where people can access MMJ dispensaries see a substantial decrease in deaths caused by opioid overdoses.


The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is different from other studies that prove MMJ laws are associated with reduced opioid overdose deaths because it differentiates between states where MMJ is legal, and states that provide patient access to MMJ through dispensaries.


The researchers, from the RAND Corporation, the University of California, Irvine, and the National Bureau of Economic Research say: ““Because legal protection of retail dispensaries does not mean dispensaries are operational, we construct our policy measure to identify the state/year in which dispensaries are both legally protected and open for business.” They also add: ““Dispensaries – retail outlets that sell marijuana to qualified patients – contribute to the decline in opioid overdose death rates.”

To conduct the study: “Using data from just the early period of these laws 1999–2010, dispensaries reduce opioid mortality rates by about 40%, above and beyond the reduction from marijuana laws alone. The total effect is estimated to be even larger. When we consider the full time period (1999–2013), the estimates imply that dispensaries reduce opioid mortality rates by about 20% while the main effect of having a law is relatively small in magnitude, implying declines of about 5%, and not statistically distinguishable from zero. Importantly, together – a marijuana law with a legal, operational dispensary provision – the estimates imply a statistically significant (at the 5% level) decline in overdose death rates of about 25%.”


The researchers analyzed data after 2010 which was “a period when states began operating more tightly regulated medical marijuana retail systems,” which was an effect of federal enforcement which showed to weaken the effect.


“The effect of medical marijuana policies on opioid related harm diminishes over time, particularly after 2010, which might be due to the regulatory tightening of medical marijuana dispensaries, the major marijuana policy feature behind the reduced harm in the earlier period,” the findings suggest.

“In short, our findings that legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms suggests that some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether,” the study concludes. “Marijuana is a far less addictive substance than opioids and the potential for overdosing is nearly zero.”



The Problem With Ohio


Although cannabis is somewhat helping mitigate the effects of the opioid crisis and save lives, there’s much more work that needs to be done.

Specifically, in Ohio.


Ohio is taking the brunt of the opioid epidemic. Back in 2016. Ohio legalized medical marijuana and the law allowed dispensaries to operate in certain areas throughout the state. Ohio doesn’t allow smokable cannabis, although oils, vapes, patches, and edibles are allowed. Better than nothing.


However, Republican-driven Ohio laws placed regulations so harsh that it makes it extremely challenging for the average Ohioan to get access to MMJ when they need it. The total number of dispensaries in the state has been limited to just 60, which makes it 1 dispensary for every 193,500 Ohioans. On the other hand, California has 1,000 dispensaries for every 39,350 Californians. The result? California had the 8th least opioid overdose deaths per capita in 2016.


Additionally, Ohio only has 21 qualifying conditions for MMJ, most of which are life-threatening diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, HIV, AIDS, and cancer. What’s odd is that chronic traumatic encelopathy (CTE) is on the list, a degenerative brain disease that usually afflicts those who experience repetitive brain trauma such as athletes and military vets. What’s strange about this is that CTE can only be diagnosed after death.


Chronic pain is the most common qualifying condition, despite how vague it is.

The problem in Ohio is that the law is incredibly tough on what constitutes as a qualifying condition yet there’s hardly any red tape for doctors to prescribe opioids.


Lawmakers need to start paying attention to Ohio and start saving lives by changing the law. The tools and resources are already there – it’s just a matter of making the solution accessible.









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