The recent article by Esquire has brought a major question to the surface. Does the legalization of marijuana have anything to do with the boom of heroin addiction in the suburban America? The author claims that the process of legalization has resulted in Mexican cartels losing their profit. That is why they created a new product that will be irresistible and will bring a lot of money.
Without any trace of doubt, the author claims that “the heroin epidemic was caused by the legalization of marijuana." However, we cannot blame the legalization so fast. In fact, it may also help solve the recent epidemic. A new study conducted by scientists at Columbia University has brought a new perspective to the question.
The study published in the American Journal of Public Health was the first research to show the relation of medical marijuana legalization and opioid use. The researchers analyzed the car crash data over the period of 14 years up till 2013. The results revealed that the states that legalized medical marijuana during this period saw the reduction of opioid-related car crashes. The study also showed that the greatest reduction was observed in the age group that was most likely to use medical marijuana—drivers aged 21 to 40.
It may be a stretch, but the researchers claim that in the states where medical marijuana is legalized, fewer people use opioids. June H. Kim, the lead author of the study, claims that the patients with severe or chronic pain often substitute cannabis for opioids. The legalization of the former leads to the decrease of the consequences of opioid use.
Though this connection has to be further studied, the two substances have one criterion in common—they ease pain. Both of them affect our bodies and have side effects. However, it is obvious that marijuana is the lesser of two evils as its consequences are far less severe than those of opioids. According to the CDC, painkiller overdoses kill thousands of people every year; marijuana overdose deaths have not been recorded yet.
Today, medical marijuana has been legalized in 25 states with various degrees of restrictions. However, the DEA still classifies it as the Schedule I substance and refuses to relax restrictions on marijuana. The opioid crisis may not be cured by medical marijuana, but the herb can help drastically reduce the use of opioids.