There have been lots of new research looking into the correlation between cannabis dispensaries and opioid use, or lack thereof. One recent study looking at dispensary distribution in USA states (where it is legal) says that just having somewhere people are able to go to and buy cannabis could essentially bring down opioid use and, in turn, reduce overdose mortalities.
Some academics in the field of economics have investigated the various places where marijuana dispensaries are situated in states like California, Colorado, and Oregon, and compared this distribution with opioid-related fatalities.
They discovered that in counties where marijuana dispensaries were located, there was a whopping 6-8% fewer opioid casualties, especially with non-Hispanic white males. Furthermore, the researchers also found that heroin-related deaths in particular actually deteriorated by about 10% when a new dispensary was opened.
Now, it is indeed difficult to say that there is a correlation between these two things, or that this correlation actually means that weed shops being opened help drug addicts — just opening a dispensary in a county doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll automatically see a drop in deaths there. But the study does definitely seem to make sense — individuals who would like access to a drug but don’t have a legal alternative to get it may attempt to get their needs met elsewhere and turn to illicit drugs, or may even use more dangerous drugs than cannabis, like heroin.
Lives can be saved
Opening up dispensaries and letting people have legal access to marijuana might fill that need for some people, turning them away from getting caught up in harder drugs.
These findings really are quite something, especially taking into account that the USA alone is slap-bang in the center of a widespread opioid epidemic, killing around 115 citizens per day. If some of those lives can be saved by giving individuals easier access to cannabis, even in places where it is legal and approved for medicinal or recreational purposes, someone with the potential to overdose on opioids may take their lives in a different direction – swapping hard drugs for more green, relaxing, natural stuff.
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