Researchers at the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health found that in the first half of 2017 California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all saw a 7.6% decline in opioid-related emergency room visits but that those rates returned to pre-legalization levels after the six months, according to a WESA outline of the study.
However, Coleman Drake, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of health policy and management, said the researchers found no “evidence to support the theory that cannabis functions as a gateway drug.”
“If anything, we find that recreational cannabis legalization decreases opioid-related emergency department visits. … Cannabis is a substitute for pain relief, but it’s not a treatment for opioid use disorder. People might be finding that cannabis does help treat pain for opioid use disorder, but ultimately isn’t treating other symptoms of the condition.”— Drake to WESA