A new meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that medical marijuana is effective in relieving chronic pain. The JAMA review found “30% or greater improvement in pain with cannabinoid compared with placebo,” across the 79 studies it surveyed.

In an unrelated study, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that access to state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries is linked to a significant decrease in both prescription painkiller abuse, and in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers. The study authors examined admissions to substance abuse treatment programs for opiate addiction as well as opiate overdose deaths in states that do and do not have medical marijuana laws.

They found that the presence of marijuana dispensaries was associated with a 15 to 35 percent decrease in substance abuse admissions. Opiate overdose deaths decreased by a similar amount. “Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers,” the researchers conclude.

Article Link: http://www.nber.org/papers/w21345