Study Shows That Marijuana Legalization Would Save 50,000 Lives Every Year

Research out of the University of Indiana shows that upwards of 50,000 lives could be saved every year in the United States if medical marijuana were legalized nationally. Thomas M. Clark, Professor of Biology at the University of Indiana, authored the paper, “Cannabis use is associated with a substantial reduction in premature deaths in the United States”, which surveyed the existing literature on the benefits of medical marijuana, as well as the harmful effects that its absence can have on national health. Clark also found that the remaining states that refuse to legalize medical marijuana are contributing to the deaths of an estimated 6,100 to 9,000 U.S. citizens every year.

From the abstract:

“Marijuana use is estimated to reduce premature deaths from diabetes mellitus, cancer, and traumatic brain injury by 989 to 2,511 deaths for each 1% of the population using Cannabis. Using a monthly user rate of 12.2% in the analysis, this results in an estimated 12,100 to 30,600 deaths from these causes prevented annually due to marijuana consumption. Including MMJ, Cannabis use appears to prevent approximately 17,400 to 38,500 premature deaths annually under current policies. The analysis predicts an estimated 23,500 to 47,500 deaths prevented annually if medical marijuana were legal nationwide.”

Clark’s work, released last month, notes how recent studies documenting the negative health effects of marijuana fail to compare those with the far more abundant positive health effects. He documents the fact that over 80 percent of medical marijuana patients reduced their use of opioid medication following the introduction of marijuana into their system, and the degree to which prescription drug use decreased for depression, sleep disorders, insomnia, anxiety and seizures following the legalization of medical marijuana.

This research appears all the more pertinent in light of the FBI crime statistics recently released, which shows that more than 653,000 arrests were made for marijuana offenses in 2016, or one arrest every 48 seconds, a marked increase from the 2015 numbers, despite successful legalization efforts in multiple states last year. The annual costs of these arrests add up to over $3 billion annually.

Clark ended his paper with the statement that the focus on cannabis research should turn to how many deaths can be prevented by its use.

“The results of the current analysis strongly suggest that Cannabis prohibition is a significant failure of public health policy, causing more harm than benefit. In addition to increasing the mortality rate, prohibition contributes to the largest per capita prison population in the world, interferes with pursuit of promising medical research, results in the loss of billions in potential tax revenues, empowers violent drug cartels thus destabilizing governments of neighboring countries, and causes extensive economic and electoral disenfranchisement of the most vulnerable U.S.”

Another study has shown that marijuana blocks the opioid reward receptors in the brain, appearing to conclusively prove that marijuana is the safe addiction treatment everyone has been looking for and could be the savior of the nation’s overdose epidemic, that is currently claiming 60,000 lives annually. Far safer than current addiction treatments, marijuana has been shown to get addicts off far dangerous substances and keep them off.

Marijuana prohibition is costing American citizens dearly, whether in thousands of preventable deaths, hundreds of thousands of needless criminal records, shattered homes, a fatally fractured social fabric, and billions of dollars every year. Drug offenses count as the number one cause of female incarceration, and the War on Drugs is directly responsible for Oklahoma’s abnormally high incarceration rate of women, the majority of whom are mothers, convicted of simple drug possession.

The effects of simply prohibiting the consumption and sale of a plant have lead to a fractal-like pattern of unnatural societal decay, but the simple act of legalization of this plant would heal the damage caused by its prohibition. A virtual end to female incarceration, an end to the opioid epidemic, 50,000 lives saved annually, thousands of jobs created and pink slips doled out to the various state and federal agencies that make their living off of this war on a plant.

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