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Worth Repeating: Suicide Rates Fall In Medical Cannabis States

by Returning Sunlight Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 at 7:23 AM

Rewrite of article showing suicide rates have dropped in states that have legalized medical cannabis compared to increased suicide rates in states that maintained cannabis prohibition. Theories for why this happened is that cannabis is more effective as self-medication for depression than pharmaceutical pills and is often substituted for alcohol once legalized.

"Worth Repeating: Suicide Rates Fall In Medical Marijuana States"

By Steve Elliott

Friday, March 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Worth Repeating

By Ron Marczyk, R.N.

Health Education Teacher (Retired)

"We conclude that the legalization of medical marijuana leads to an improvement in the psychological well being of young adult males, an improvement that is reflected in fewer suicides."

This article from 2012 shows suicide rate CDC data from medical legalized cannabis states compared to non-legalized cannabis prohibition states for the same duration (1990 -2007). There is a significant decline of suicide rates in the states that have legalized medical cannabis, while there is an increased suicide rate in states that have maintained the status quo of cannabis prohibition and denied legal access. The study was divided into three segments of males based upon age their group; 15-19, 20-39, and 60+.

The results are;

"....passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate.

"By age group:

"An 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males; and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males."

"We conclude that the legalization of medical marijuana leads to an improvement in the psychological well being of young adult males, an improvement that is reflected in fewer suicides."

"A similar decrease can be seen for males 20-59 and there is a moderate decrease in males 60 years or older three years after legalization."

It would also be good to have a comparison study with female suicides in legal vs. non-legal cannabis states. Though the group most likely to commit suicide and succeed remains young males, so they are the primary focus of the researchers. The article then discusses the theories behind this significant drop in suicides. The lack of legalized cannabis in prohibition states may lead young males to access alcohol and/or illegal hard drugs like meth, crack and heroin. Those drugs then worsen health and create stronger more intractable depression, thus leading to the final outcome of suicide. With the legal access of medical cannabis in other states, suicide rates decline as cannabis is substituted for alcohol and the illegal hard drugs are avoided as the cannabis is sold separately. In addition, in legalized states the depressed youth now have the option for cannabis instead of tampering with psychiatric pharmaceutical medications that list suicidal thoughts as known side effects!

Another theory beyond substitution for alcohol and separation from illegal hard drugs is that cannabis helps support the shock coping mechanisms that enable the person to deal with trauma without becoming overwhelmed. According to Hamermesh and Soss (1974) and their "economic theory of suicide," there is a balance between happiness and negative shocks that determines an individual's breaking point. If the weight of negative shocks tips the scales too far down into sadness the person may make an irrational decision to end their life. However, from their perspective the imbalance of unhappiness outweighs the positives, so suicide is a logical choice. What cannabis does more effectively than psychiatric medications is to tip the scales back towards the side of happiness and reduce the impact of negative shocks, thus restoring balance in the stressed person.

"Even if a shock is perceived to be temporary, an individual with 'time inconsistent preferences' may commit suicide at the prospect of having to cope with an acutely painful state in the present."




Both theories support one another as alcohol is more likely to create worsening depression while cannabis has shock buffers and can improve moods. This data also contradicts various propaganda pieces that claim cannabis use in teens can cause depression, psychosis and paranoia. Does this mean that all teens should go out and smoke cannabis to prevent suicide? No, though our society should reconsider punishing stressed out teens who seek out cannabis to self-medicate. It would even be better for teens struggling with depression to obtain cannabis via prescription from their counselor (psychologist or social worker) instead of trying to get alcohol and/or hard drugs. The message is clear, alcohol is more dangerous for depression than cannabis. If one chooses cannabis over alcohol and climbs out of the pits of depression, we all win.

What about depressed teens self-medicating with sugary foods and beverages? We know that sugar can create a temporary feeling of happiness and excitement, followed by a sudden downward crash and spiraling depression. Then factor in the physical side effects of refined sugar consumption such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease and there's a recipe for disaster. Though we witness no well meaning police officer sitting at the donut shop waiting to arrest the sugar self-medicating teens "for their own good". Yet if the teens want to self-medicate with cannabis an entire youth detention facility exists to "protect them from themselves." You can bet that the youth detention facility is stocked full of sugary snacks so the teens can return to the approved self-medication on sugar!

It appears the cannabis prohibitionists in the non-legal states adhere to the "better dead than stoned" mantra that we've been living under since the beginning of Harry Anslinger's campaign against cannabis. Surely the pharmaceutical corporations enjoy their monopoly on treatment of depression with pills that have side effects of suicidal thoughts. These corporate criminal entities will need to face accountability for the damage caused by their deadly pills. The facts don't lie, almost every mass shooter in the recent decades have been on some type of psychiatric medication. People with depression who choose the legal path of pharmaceutical pills need to realize they are playing with fire. If the person's own unique body chemistry has a bad reaction to the pills, they could be next on the growing list of "suicide shooters". Those who choose to gamble with their lives by taking pills are also gambling with the lives of others. If they have the choice of legal medical cannabis instead, their lives and the lives of those around them would become more secure. This truth may be a bitter pill for the pharma CEOs to swallow, though they cannot hide from the light of the returning sun.


Mark Miller - Green Liberty Party 2016 Candidate for U.S. President. If elected I pledge to legalize cannabis for all U.S. citizens and also will post warning labels on all refined sugar products. If the Fanjul brothers (sugar barons from South Florida) have any problems with my warning labels, I'll tell them "Talk to the gators, because the head's not listening!" ; )


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