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Medical marijuana reduces suicide among young men

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Marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events

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Evidence keeps on adding to the case for legalized marijuana and health benefits. A new study adds that evidence in which researchers found legalized marijuana can reduce suicide rates among men between the ages of 20 and 39.

Dr. Daniel Ress, PhD, MS, Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado at Denver along with colleagues from Montana State University, University of Colorado Denver and San Diego State University, set out to estimate the association between legalizing medical marijuana and suicides.

The team looked at suicide rates per 100,000 people in a set of states allowing medical marijuana and states where marijuana is still illegal to serve as the control group. Data was obtained from the National Vital Statistics System’s Mortality Detail Files for 1990–2007.

After researchers adjusted for for economic conditions, state policies, and state-specific linear time trends, the association between legalizing medical marijuana and suicides was not statistically significant at the .05 level.

However, in states with legalized marijuana was associated with a 10.8% reduction in suicide rates among men aged 20 through 29 years and for men aged 30 to 39 years there was a reduction in suicide rates by 9.4%.

In conclusion the researchers write “Suicides among men aged 20 through 39 years fell after medical marijuana legalization compared with those in states that did not legalize. The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events. However, this relationship may be explained by alcohol consumption. The mechanism through which legalizing medical marijuana reduces suicides among young men.”

The researchers explained “opponents of legalizing medical marijuana point to the large number of studies showing that marijuana use is positively associated with depression, the onset of panic attacks, psychosis, schizophrenia, and suicidal ideation.”

“However, the association between marijuana use and outcomes such as these could be attributable to difficult-to-measure confounders such as personality.”

This study is published in the American Journal of Public Health

There is sound scientific evidence that medical marijuana can help with many diseases and conditions. For example, researchers from the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research conducted a study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of smoked marijuana to treat pain caused by HIV-related peripheral neuropathy. The study concluded smoked marijuana was well tolerated and effectively relieved chronic neuropathic pain from HIV-related peripheral neuropathy. The findings are comparable to clinically proven oral drugs for chronic neuropathic pain.

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