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Can Medical Marijunana Reduce Prescription Overdose Deaths?

Summary: Medical marijuana is shown to have painkilling properties without the harmful side effects of typical prescription pain killers.
Air Date: 10/23/15
Duration: 10
Host: Leigh Vinocur, MD
Guest Bio: Colleen L. Barry, PhD
Colleen Barry Colleen L. Barry is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Research and Practice in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a joint appointment in the Department of Mental Health.

Dr. Barry is Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research and is a core faculty member in the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. She serves on the board of directors of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM).

Her research examines the impact of policies to broaden access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment through insurance expansions; equalize insurance coverage for these services compared to other medical benefits; and alter financing to improve integration of mental health and addiction services in the health care system.

She is interested in how policies can affect a range of outcomes for persons with mental illness and substance use disorders, including access to health care and social services, care quality, health care spending, financial protection and mortality. Professor Barry isinvolved in numerous research studies examining the implications of various aspects of the Affordable Care Act on mental illness and addiction treatment.

She also conducts empirical research to understand how communication strategies influence public attitudes about mental illness, gun policy, prescription opioid and heroin abuse, and obesity. One focus of this work is to identify evidence-based approaches to reducing stigma. Dr. Barry teaches courses on mental health and addiction policy, the role of government in health policy, and survey research methods.
Can Medical Marijunana Reduce Prescription Overdose Deaths?
Within the past few years, medical marijuana has been made legal in several states.

Research has shown the benefits of medical marijuana among cancer and chronic pain patients, and now more research is showing that medical marijuana can help lower the amount of prescription overdose deaths.

In fact, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in states where medical marijuana is legal, the number of deaths from prescription drug overdoses is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana is illegal.

What else did this research find?

Listen in as senior author of this study, Dr. Colleen Barry, joins Dr. Leigh to discuss medical marijuana and how it can help lower prescription overdose deaths.