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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Maryland: Researchers Find Marijuana Not a Public Health Solution to Opioid Crisis

Marijuana heightens the risk for opioid misuse, despite oft-cited claims that it can help solve the opioid crisis, according to a new report produced by the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center on Young Adult Health and Development in collaboration with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

The paper was produced as part of the Emerging Drug Trends Report, a collaborative effort with the University of Maryland School of Public Health to shed light on addiction, America’s top health problem.

The analysis points to decades of research showing individuals with addiction to prescription opioids often have a history of marijuana use and using marijuana to manage pain doesn’t relate to decreases in pain.

“Clinical evidence … that marijuana is an effective treatment for pain or opioid use disorder does not exist,” the analysis states. 

The report also cautions against efforts to legalize marijuana – since marijuana could exacerbate opioid addictions – and instead urges the nation to take steps toward effective interventions. Experts predict the opioid overdose crisis will only worsen in the coming decade, and aggressive steps need to be taken to change the epidemic’s trajectory. 

“The notion that increased access to marijuana will help the country shed its current addiction crisis does not have scientific merit, and distracts from planning and implementing a longer-term and broader set of evidence-based strategies,” the report states.   

Dr. Amelia Arria, the director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development, has authored other studies on the effects of marijuana use. A previous study found that students with lower levels of marijuana usage experienced better mental health outcomes than their peers who maintained or increased their use of the drug.

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