States that allow medical marijuana to be used to treat pain show a decline in the use of opioids, according to a new study.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, examined 69,000 traffic fatalities in 18 states from 1999 to 2013, focusing on differences between states that legalized medical marijuana and those that had not.
Columbia University researchers found a significant difference in drivers ages 21 to 40. Those who died in states with medical marijuana laws were half as likely to test positive for opioids compared with similar drivers in states that hadn’t legalized medical marijuana.
The study comes a month after the Obama administration ruled that marijuana has no medical value and will remain on the list of the government’s most dangerous Schedule 1 drugs under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
The Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition by former Washington state Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and former Rhode Island Republican Gov. Lincoln Chafee to reclassify marijuana, which would have allowed pharmacies to fill marijuana prescriptions.
That decision angered many who want marijuana legalized for medical or recreational purposes, or both.
In Washington, D.C, marijuana activists are planning a rally and march to the White House on Saturday in an attempt to urge President Barack Obama to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
Organizers are urging protesters to bring marijuana cuttings to create “a sea of green” in a display for the president.
Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, while Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon allow it to be used for recreational purposes.
Rob Hotakainen: 202-383-6154, @HotakainenRob