We wanted to make sure you had seen four key studies from the past week:
- A groundbreaking study in The Lancet found that marijuana use over four years actually made it harder for patients to cope with chronic pain, and did not reduce their use of opioids.
- A study in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that increasing self-exposure to non-medical marijuana was a predictor of greater odds of opioid dependence diagnosis.
- A study in the International Review of Psychiatry found an increased rate of serious mental illness in states that had legalized medical marijuana.
- In JAMA: “(The) associated acute and long-term psychoactive effects on brain function (of marijuana) are…known. Expanding use of cannabis among pregnant and lactating women (as likely will occur with legalization) may lead to increased risk from fetal and child exposures if the teratogenic potential of cannabis remains underappreciated.”
Additional Resources on Link Between Marijuana and Opioids
These articles follow other warnings from medical professionals: the recent editorial published in the Journal of the Society for the Study of Addiction, which cautions against drawing policy conclusions from population studies, and the editorial comment from the American Society of Addiction Medicine on February 20, 2018. And don’t forget NIDA’s rigorous study showing pot users are twice as likely to have abused opioids and have an opioid use disorder than non-marijuana users.
SAM has published a one-pager describing the overwhelming link between marijuana and opioid abuse. While not every marijuana user will go on to use heroin, nearly all heroin users previously abused marijuana. We need smart policies that discourage use, get people back on their feet, and restore people to participate in and contribute to society. States that have legalized marijuana, by contrast, see increased drugged driving, increased arrests of minority youth, and increased emergency room visits. Colorado is experiencing the highest number of drug overdoses in its history. Legalization is a failed experiment.
Please visit learnaboutsam.org to learn about a smarter approach.
Sincerely, Dr. Kevin Sabet President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Affiliated Fellow, Yale University