Colorado officials skeptical about new study’s finding that legal marijuana reduced opioid deaths – The Denver Post

The start of legal marijuana sales in Colorado may have reversed a rising trend of prescription opioid overdose deaths in the state, a new study set to be published next month concludes.

The study found that — even after taking into account other factors — nearly one fewer person per month died of an opioid overdose in Colorado after the start of legal cannabis sales in 2014 compared to before. The paper’s authors stop short of saying that legalization caused the reversal, instead saying that legalization was “associated” with a decline in opioid deaths. The authors also caution that the study looks only at a small sliver in time because legalization is still relatively new.

“These initial results clearly show that continuing research is warranted as data become available, involving longer follow-ups and additional states that have legalized recreational cannabis,” the study’s authors write.

Officials in Colorado met the study with skepticism Monday.