Summary: Researchers report on lower numbers of fatal car crashes involving opioids since medical marijuana laws have been passed in some states.
Source: Columbia University.
Since Passing Medical Marijuana Laws, States Have Seen Lower Numbers of Fatal Car Crashes Involving Opioids.
A study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found that there were fewer drivers killed in car crashes who tested positive for opioids in states with medical marijuana laws than before the laws went into effect. The study is one of the first to assess the link between state medical marijuana laws and opioid use at the individual level. Findings will be published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
Researchers analyzed 1999-2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from 18 U.S. states that tested for alcohol and other drugs in at least 80 percent of drivers who died within one hour of crashing. They looked at opioid positivity among drivers ages 21 to 40 who crashed their cars in states with an operational medical marijuana law compared with drivers crashing in states before those laws went into effect. There was an overall reduction in opioid positivity for most states after implementation of an operational medical marijuana law.
“We would expect the adverse consequences of opioid use to decrease over time in states where medical marijuana use is legal, as individuals substitute marijuana for opioids in the treatment of severe or chronic pain,” explained June H. Kim, MPhil, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and lead author.
Among the 68,394 deceased drivers, approximately 42 percent were fatally injured in states that had an operational medical marijuana laws, 25 percent died in states before an operational law went into effect, and 33 percent died in states that had never passed a medical marijuana law.
In 1996, California was the first state to pass a voter-initiated medical marijuana law. Since then, 22 additional states and the District of Columbia have enacted their own medical marijuana laws either by voter initiatives or through state legislation.
“The trend may have been particularly strong among the age group surveyed because minimum age requirements restrict access to medical marijuana to patients age 21 and older, and most medical marijuana patients are younger than 45,” noted Kim. According to the authors, they would expect to see similar reductions in opioid use among older cohorts if medical marijuana is increasingly embraced by older generations.
“This study is about the possible substitution relationship between marijuana and opioids. The toxicological testing data for fatally injured drivers lend some suggestive evidence that supports the substitution hypothesis in young adults, but not in older adults,”said Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, Mailman School professor of Epidemiology, the founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and senior author.
“As states with these laws move toward legalizing marijuana more broadly for recreational purposes, future studies are needed to assess the impact these laws may have on opioid use,” noted Kim.
About this neuroscience research article
Co-authors are: Julian Santaella-Tenorio, Katherine M. Keyes, Deborah Hasin, and Silvia S. Martins with the Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health; Christine Mauro and Julia Wrobel with the Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health; and Magdalena Cerda` with the Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Davis.
Funding: The study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse grants T32DA031099-01A1, R01DA037866-01, R01DA034244, R49CE002096, and R21DA029670.
NeuroscienceNews would like to thank Stephanie Berger for submitting this neuroscience research article directly to us.
Source: Stephanie Berger – Columbia University Image Source: This NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain. Original Research:Abstract for “State Medical Marijuana Laws and the Prevalence of Opioids Detected Among Fatally Injured Drivers” by June H. Kim, Julian Santaella-Tenorio, Christine Mauro, Julia Wrobel, Magdalena Cerdà, Katherine M. Keyes, Deborah Hasin, Silvia S. Martins, and Guohua Li in American Journal of Public Health. Published online September 15 2016 doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303426
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Columbia University. “Study of Fatal Car Accidents Suggests Medical Marijuana May Be Helping Curb Opioid Use.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 15 September 2016. <https://neurosciencenews.com/opioid-marijuana-crash-5056/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Columbia University. (2016, September 15). Study of Fatal Car Accidents Suggests Medical Marijuana May Be Helping Curb Opioid Use. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved September 15, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/opioid-marijuana-crash-5056/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Columbia University. “Study of Fatal Car Accidents Suggests Medical Marijuana May Be Helping Curb Opioid Use.” https://neurosciencenews.com/opioid-marijuana-crash-5056/ (accessed September 15, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
State Medical Marijuana Laws and the Prevalence of Opioids Detected Among Fatally Injured Drivers
Objectives. To assess the association between medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and the odds of a positive opioid test, an indicator for prior use.
Methods. We analyzed 1999–2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from 18 states that tested for alcohol and other drugs in at least 80% of drivers who died within 1 hour of crashing (n = 68 394). Within-state and between-state comparisons assessed opioid positivity among drivers crashing in states with an operational MML (i.e., allowances for home cultivation or active dispensaries) versus drivers crashing in states before a future MML was operational.
Results. State-specific estimates indicated a reduction in opioid positivity for most states after implementation of an operational MML, although none of these estimates were significant. When we combined states, we observed no significant overall association (odds ratio [OR] = 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.61, 1.03). However, age-stratified analyses indicated a significant reduction in opioid positivity for drivers aged 21 to 40 years (OR = 0.50; 95% CI = 0.37, 0.67; interaction P < .001).
Conclusions. Operational MMLs are associated with reductions in opioid positivity among 21- to 40-year-old fatally injured drivers and may reduce opioid use and overdose.
“State Medical Marijuana Laws and the Prevalence of Opioids Detected Among Fatally Injured Drivers” by June H. Kim, Julian Santaella-Tenorio, Christine Mauro, Julia Wrobel, Magdalena Cerdà, Katherine M. Keyes, Deborah Hasin, Silvia S. Martins, and Guohua Li in American Journal of Public Health. Published online September 15 2016 doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303426