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Study: Medical Cannabis Saves Lives

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An estimated 23,500 to 47,500 deaths would be prevented if medical marijuana were legal across the U.S.

That’s the conclusion of a new meta-analysis of scientific research published over the past two decades.

“Cannabis use is associated with decreased rates of obesity, diabetes mellitus, mortality from traumatic brain injury, use of alcohol and prescription drugs, driving fatalities, and opioid overdose deaths,” Thomas M. Clark, chair of Indiana University South Bend’s Biology Department, wrote in the review issued last month.

While the new paper has not yet been printed in a peer-reviewed journal, Clark took into account the results of 222 previously published studies in formulating his estimates.

“Including states with legal access as of 2015, prohibition is responsible for an estimated minimum of 6,100 to 9,000 deaths annually due to lack of access to medical marijuana, in addition to the increased deaths from cancer, diabetes mellitus, and TBI arising from a decrease in the numbers of people using marijuana,” the review concludes. “Overall, prohibition is estimated to lead to similar numbers of premature deaths as drunk driving, homicide, or fatal opioid overdose.”

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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