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WIRE: New study finds reduced opioid use in medical marijuana states

PORTLAND, MAINE – A recent study finds that states with functioning medical marijuana systems show significant drops in individuals between the ages of 21 and 40 testing positive for opioid use (November issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH)).

The study, conducted by researchers from Columbia University and the University of California, Davis surveyed results of toxicology tests for drivers from 18 states between 1999 and 2013 and compared the data among states with and without operational medical marijuana laws (MMLs).

“The new study is further evidence that increasing access to marijuana will help address our opioid epidemic,” said Yes on 1 political director Alysia Melnick. “We don’t have any more time to waste on failed policies while Maine people are dying. This research tells the real story of legal marijuana’s potential to positively impact opioid use. We are confident that voters will see the truth and vote Yes on 1.”

In states with MMLs, the study showed a significant reduction in opioid presence in subjects between the ages of 21 and 40.

“Our findings among those aged 21 to 40 years are consistent with previous findings that MMLs are associated with a 25% reduction in the annual rate of opioid overdose and that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a slight decrease in opioid treatment admissions and in opioid overdose mortality,” the study authors wrote.

Minimum age requirements restrict access to medical marijuana for most patients younger than 21 years, and most surveyed medical marijuana patients are younger than 45 years, the study noted.  “Although the uptake of medical marijuana has been historically concentrated among young adults, we would expect to see similar reductions in opioid use among older cohorts if medical marijuana is increasingly embraced by older generations,” the authors wrote.

In 2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) issued a study showing a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose rates in states with functioning medical marijuana systems.


The Yes on 1 Campaign is supporting a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to regulate and tax marijuana in Maine. For more information, visit

Alysia Melnick, Yes on 1 political director
(207) 939-4190,

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