Access to medical marijuana saves lives [Letter]

September 01, 2014

I agree that Maryland's recently proposed rules regarding access to medical marijuana are overly restrictive ("Pot as medicine," Aug. 27).

Maryland policymakers are missing an opportunity to save lives. Baltimore, for example, has the highest rate of heroin addiction in the country.

New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that states with legal access to medical marijuana have a 25 percent lower rate of opioid overdose deaths than states that prohibit marijuana.

Moreover, the protective effects of medical marijuana grow stronger over time. States with established medical marijuana access showed a 33 percent reduction in overdose deaths.

This research finding has huge implications for states like Maryland, which are grappling with heroin and prescription drug addiction.

The phrase "if it saves one life" has been used to justify all manner of drug-war abuses. Legalizing access to medical marijuana has the potential to save thousands of lives.

Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C.

The writer is a policy analyst at Common Sense for Drug Policy.

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