Pubdate: Wed, 19 Aug 2015
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2015 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding your thoughtful editorial on the medical use of cannabis, 
medical marijuana is not something to be feared ("Medical marijuana 
debate," Aug. 14).

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association 
shows that states with open medical marijuana access have a 25 
percent lower opioid overdose death rate than marijuana prohibition states.

The protective effect grows stronger with time. States with 
established access showed a 33 percent reduction in deaths. This 
research finding has huge implications for cities like Baltimore that 
are struggling with prescription narcotic and heroin overdose deaths.

The substitution effect was documented by California physicians long 
before the JAMA research. Legal marijuana access is correlated with a 
reduction in both opioid and alcohol abuse. The marijuana plant is 
incapable of causing an overdose death. Not even aspirin can make the 
same claim, much less alcohol or prescription painkillers.

The phrase "if it saves one life" has been used to justify all manner 
of drug war abuses. But legal medical marijuana truly does have has 
the potential to save thousands of lives.

Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C. The writer is a policy analyst at 
Common Sense for Drug Policy.
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