In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal, new research suggests.

The findings of the study, led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, suggest that while medical marijuana laws can be controversial and opponents have raised concerns that they may promote cannabis use among children, they may have unintended benefits as well.

While more research is needed, these findings suggest that it is possible that the wider availability of medical marijuana for people in pain might help to reduce the growing number of overdose deaths attributed to prescription pain pills.

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