Photo: James Wojcik
For the first time ever, heroin is more likely to kill us than guns. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heroin deaths surpassed gun deaths in 2015, a harsh reminder of the growing public health crisis that is opioid addiction. Opioid use grew quickly in the U.S. outpacing doctors’ and lawmakers’ abilities to understand the problem and react appropriately. Now we’re playing a very deadly game of catch up, but some studies show there could be one unexpected answer in the search to easing heroin overdose deaths.
Colleen Barry, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research, wrote in the New York Times that her and her team found opioid overdose deaths decreased significantly — by as much as 25% – in states that made medical marijuana legal. According to her study, after the passage of legal medical marijuana, states saw a reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths in the first year, and that only grew in following years. Colleen’s isn’t the only study that makes the same point, though. Stat News points to two other studies that also show a drop in overdose deaths after medical marijuana is made legal.