Results of a new study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center indicate that states that have legalized medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions are experiencing a 25% lower death rate from prescription drug overdose than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal.
California, Oregon, and Washington legalized medical marijuana prior to 1999, with 10 more states following between then and 2010, the time period of the study. As of June 2014, another 10 states and Washington, D.C. have adopted similar laws. The authors write that, while more research is needed, their findings suggest that wider availability of medical marijuana for people in pain might help to reduce the growing number of overdose deaths attributed to prescription pain medications. A report on the research appears in the August 25 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine. Read a news story about the findings here.