The American Journal of Public Health has published a new study that found legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado has been linked to fewer opioid deaths.

A new research study published by the American Journal of Public Health has found that legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado could be linked to a lower rate of deaths due to opioid overdose. Tens of thousands of lives are claimed each year due to the opioid epidemic.
Several studies have found links between medical marijuana and opioid overdosing, but this study is the first to look at recreational marijuana and its impact on opioid deaths. The researchers found a 6.5 percent decrease in deaths due to opioid use after recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado in 2014. However, due to the fact that those shops didn't open until 2014, the authors of the publication do want to stress that the results of their findings are preliminary. [caption id="attachment_26742" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]deaths Courtesy of the American Journal of Public Health.[/caption] "After Colorado's legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years," wrote authors Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar in the report. Continuing, they said,
This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado."
The Washington Post notes that the authors did account for certain variables that could have affected the results -- Colorado's prescription drug programs requires patients to register their opioid. But, The Denver Post argues that there's still a long way to go before government officials will look to marijuana in order to defeat the opioid epidemic. In fact, Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said that "It just hasn't been in place long enough." He echoed what the authors of the study have said -- that the data is still in its preliminary stages. The study's authors will be keeping a close eye on the numbers over the next few years in order to see if the trend continues. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of Toke Signals.

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