A recent study examined the relationship between legal cannabis stores – or as we know them “dispensaries” – and opioid deaths. While this is not a new finding, since we’ve known that legal cannabis does have an impact on opioid related deaths – in that it reduces them; this particular study looked at “the number of dispensaries” within a particular county and how that influenced opioid deaths.
Now we’re starting to take a Macro view of the situation – and we’re splicing it down to figure out what are the contributing factors. In this case – “how does the access to legal cannabis impact the mortality rate from those afflicted with opioid addiction?”
Of course, as with every study – we have to keep in mind that correlation does not indicate causation. However, thus far, it has shown consistently that when you legalize cannabis – whether for medical or recreational purposes – deaths due to opioids fall.
What the latest study revealed
The findings of this study took data from 812 counties within 23 states that allowed legal cannabis dispensaries to operate by the end of 2017.
Once the researchers made adjustments for potential contributors and population characteristics, they found that counties that had more access to cannabis dispensaries saw a decrease in opioid related deaths. What they found was that when a county increased their dispensary from 1 to two, they saw a 17% decrease in opioid related deaths.
A bump from 2-3 saw an additional increase of 8.5% which aligns with earlier studies that saw a 25% drop in opioid related deaths.
If dispensaries were a contributing factor – then we would need to understand at which point it would level out. In other words, what is the optimal number of dispensaries prior to there being no impact on the mortality rates of opioids? Of course – this is assuming that there is a cause-effect relationship.
Potential Reasons why More Dispensaries = Fewer Opioid Deaths
It’s simple really – when people have alternatives for pain management, they tend to use the “less harmful option” first. Opioids, while highly effective for short term relief for acute pain – there’s little evidence that it works for chronic conditions.
Nonetheless, many physicians prescribe opioids to their patients for these chronic conditions. However, with the availability of cannabis within a marketplace – physicians have more options to explore. Cannabis has said to help with pain tolerance and thus, when people with chronic conditions use cannabis to alleviate their pain symptoms – they reduce mortality risks by 100%.
This is because even if a medical patient were to have an “accidental overdose” – which is one of the main causes of opioid deaths – cannabis is non-lethal in that regards. It is virtually impossible to induce a fatal dose of cannabis.
Of course, an over dose or a “green out” as us cannabis users call it – may not be a pleasant experience, but it certainly isn’t fatal.
Considering that chronic pain means constant discomfort – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when giving patients who suffer from chronic pain a drug that alleviates the symptoms [somewhat] but also has the potential to shut off their respiratory system – is a bad idea.
But cannabis isn’t harmless!
I genuinely despise people who make this claim as evidence that we should be careful with cannabis. Nobody is arguing that cannabis is harmless. On the contrary – cannabis is a psychoactive substance that needs to be addressed with the seriousness of all psychoactive substances – including sugar, caffeine and so forth.
After all, we are playing around with our delicate chemistry and we’re too dumb to know how we should feel…right?
Nothing in this world is harmless – hell, the act of breathing is ever inching you closer to your own fateful day of death.
You have to remember, that everything is relative. Cannabis compared to water might be considered “harmful” – especially if smoked. However, even smoked cannabis compared to overdosing on heroin – is far less harmful to the individual…don’t you think?
Open a Dispensary and Save Lives!
Been thinking about entering into the cannabis game but worried people might think you’re just an opportunist or a closet stoner? Now you can use this argument that you’re saving lives by actively fighting the great and evil – Big Pharma Sponsored – Opioid Epidemic!!!
Yes, the brave men and women of the world need your help. Do your part and open a dispensary today! Don’t dodge your duty to doobie!
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