A study found the unintended way legalized marijuana is likely preventing overdose deaths.

The reasons for supporting legalized pot are stacking higher, and higher, and higher, and higher...

Weed is a real life-saver, amiright?

*wink*


GIF via "Pineapple Express."

No, but really. Weed might actually be saving lives!

To understand how, let's start by talking about prescription painkillers. Painkiller abuse has become a major problem in America. In 2011, the CDC reported that more people died from overdosing on painkillers than from cocaine and heroin combined.

In fact, America's prescription painkiller problem has become so dire the CDC considers it an epidemic.

And that's where legal weed comes in.

A vendor weighs buds for medical marijuana patients in Los Angeles. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

New research has found that access to medical marijuana is likely saving lives by reducing overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers.

Many people who use medical marijuana do so to alleviate chronic pain associated with various ailments. So a few smart folks set out to find the answer to the logical question: Is legal marijuana acting as an alternative for people who might otherwise use and abuse painkillers?

Those smart folks — better known as researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and the RAND Corporation — analyzed U.S. states that permit medical marijuana to see if they could find some answers.

And answers they did find: "Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers."

Medical marijuana patients attend a cannabis market in Los Angeles. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

To reach their conclusion, the researchers looked at two different measures: 1. How many people had been admitted to addiction facilities for painkiller abuse, and 2. How many people died from painkiller overdoses.

States with medical marijuana legalization and pot dispensaries saw reductions in both admissions and deaths compared to states without medical marijuana. The accessibility of the weed played a role, too: Researchers didn't find decreases in states that allow medical marijuana but don't allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

This marks a tally in the "win" column for pot advocates...

...a tally that follows a whole lot of other tallies.

There's mounting evidence that the pros of pot outweigh the cons — for both medicinal and recreational purposes. This study showed how medical marijuana can save lives, but decriminalizing weed can also save us lots of money, too — money we could be spending on public schools and not on, say, our massive prison population.

Fortunately, the facts are encouraging more Americans to rethink the green stuff.

Gallup found in November 2014 that a slim majority of Americans support legalizing weed. To put that into perspective, that figure was at just 34% in 2003.

Public policy has reflected that shift. Throughout the past two decades, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, and four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — and Washington, D.C., now allow recreational weed.

Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images.

America is getting behind a relatively safe drug that can save lives, boost vital tax dollars, and shrink our country's prison population? I'll smoke to that.

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Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

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The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

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The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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