Proponents of legalizing marijuana have argued that access to cannabis will ease the opioid crisis: People will choose pot for recreation or pain relief if it’s easily available, they reason.
The rationale stemmed from a 2014 study that found lower fatal overdose rates in states that legalized medical marijuana. Although the researchers cautioned they found only an association, not a cause, state officials, physicians and activists cited the study’s findings to support legalization.
Now, thanks to new Stanford research, we know it was a pipe dream. Keith Humphreys, PhD, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and Chelsea Shover, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar, took a second look at the data and found it doesn’t hold up now that many more states have legalized cannabis.
“If you think opening a bunch of dispensaries is going to reduce opioid deaths, you’ll be disappointed,” Humphreys said. “We don’t think cannabis is