The legalization of marijuana in some states has had many consequences. For example, as many medical marijuana advocates have been claiming for decades, since the legalization of medical marijuana in some states, more research has found that pot can repair damaged DNA. A few consequences have been negative. On the other hand, Inquisitr reported previously that Calvina Fay of the Drug-Free America Foundation, claimed that when Colorado legalized marijuana, the state saw an increase in car accidents, DUIs, and deaths as a result of slip-and-fall accidents. Emerging data pertaining to the consequences of legalizing marijuana is reported on regularly.
Nora Volkow, the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), asserted, “Legal drugs are the main problem that we have in our country as it relates to morbidity and mortality. By far. Many more people die of tobacco than all of the drugs together. Many more people die of alcohol than all of the illicit drugs together.”
Nora asked, “Can we as a country afford to have a third legal drug? Can we?” This week, new research on the consequences of legalized marijuana presented the exact opposite scenario Volkow suggested would happen.
The new research examined one of the most acutely deadly drugs of all drug categories. Nora did not mention that pain killers are another legalized drug. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported a staggering statistic from 2010:
“Fatal overdoses from opiate medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone have quadrupled since 1999, accounting for an estimated 16,651 deaths in 2010.”
Tuesday, CNN reported on a consequence of looser marijuana laws that experts like Vokow and Fay didn’t anticipate. New marijuana research published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine found that in states where marijuana has been legalized in some capacity overdose deaths from pain killer use dropped significantly. “We found there was about a 25% lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths on average after implementation of a medical marijuana law,” lead study author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber told CNN. Bachhuber added, “But I think it’s important, of course, to weigh the risks and benefits of medical marijuana.”
Though Fay cited an increase in traffic accidents in Colorado since marijuana was legalized for recreational use, it’s important to note that the incidence of traffic fatalities in Colorado has continued to follow a declining national trend. While marijuana legalization does not appear to be the reason for the decline in traffic deaths, the legislation has not led to an increase in accident fatalities.
Many prohibitionists argue that marijuana can make people so crazy that they are compelled to commit violent crimes. There are only a couple of examples of deaths directly related to the legalization of marijuana. Advocates for repealing laws legalizing marijuana usually bring up the shooting death of Kristine Kirk. Her husband shot her after lawfully consuming marijuana. What is not regularly mentioned in news reports though is that the police affidavit stated that her husband is believed to have also ingested prescription medication for his back pain.
Fay said that deaths by slip-and-fall have increased since Colorado legalized marijuana, but concrete statistics could not be found connecting slip and falls directly to marijuana use. Deaths related in any way to marijuana are immediately reported on in the media given the heated atmosphere of the marijuana debate. It is unclear is Fay was referring to the isolated incident involving that death of 19-year-old African exchange student, Levy Thamba Pongi. Pongi was partying with three other students when he died. His friends told the authorities that he had eaten “marijuana-infused cookies, began acting wildly and leapt from a hotel balcony,” according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, states with legalized marijuana have benefited from the unlikely consequence of thousands fewer deaths from painkillers.
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