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Medical Marijuana and Drug Overdoses

An apparent benefit of the legalization of medical marijuana has been an unexpected drop in deaths related to overdoses of prescription painkillers. A study that assessed the availability of medical marijuana and analyzed the data on deaths nationwide between 1999 and 2010 found that deaths from prescription painkillers had dropped by 25 percent in states that had legalized medical marijuana (in 2010 only 13 states had done so compared to 23 states today). The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that, in 2010 alone, overdose deaths dropped by about 1,700 in states where medical marijuana had been legalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths related to pain medications have become epidemic over the past two decades and are now the leading cause of injury death in the U.S. The CDC reported that in 2011, 55 percent of drug overdoses stemmed from prescription medications and 75 percent of those involved opiate derived painkillers. One critic of the study suggested that other explanations, such as expanded methadone and buprenorphine programs, might have influenced the drop in overdose deaths, as might the action of the Drug Enforcement Administration in shutting down “pill mills.”

Marcus A. Bachhuber, et al, “Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010,” JAMA Internal Medicine, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.4005

How Many Prescription Drugs Do You Take? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed prescription drugs and whether we are too dependant upon them: Too Many Prescription Drugs? Check out the article and let us know how many prescription drugs you take on a daily basis.

How Often Do You Take Your Pet to the Vet? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed giving pets over the counter medications: Are OTC Human Drugs Safe for Pets? Check out the article and let us know how often you take your pet to the veterinary.

How Carefully Do You Follow Drug Dosage Instructions? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the difference in dosages between genders and weight: Are You Taking the Right Dosage? Check out the article and tell us how closely you follow your drug dosage!