By Grow

New research published in the journal Health Economics indicates that states that implemented recreational cannabis laws through 2019 experienced less demand for prescription codeine. The data gathered showed pharmacies distributed 26% codeine. States that implemented cannabis legalization before 2019 had pharmacies distribute 37% less codeine. Codeine is one of the most widely abused pharmaceutical drugs, with a high potential for overdose deaths. The U.S. government does not track death rates specifically for codeine, but the CDC does have statistics indicating more than 109,000 people died of a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending March 2022. Misuse of prescription opioids contributes to more than 10,000 overdose deaths each year. It is clear that any reduction in the use of opioids can save lives, so this is just one more benefit to having a legal medical and recreational marijuana program. “Increasing legal access to cannabis may shift some consumers away from opioids and toward cannabis,” said one of the study’s authors, George Mason University’s Johanna C. Maclean. “While all substances have some risks, cannabis use is arguably less harmful to health than the nonmedical use of prescription opioids.”