Medical marijuana is now legal in Kentucky, where doctors say some patients have been using the drug for years without adverse effects.
But many medical marijuana patients are now dealing with a new threat, with a growing number of deaths from prescription drug overdose, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
Some of the deaths have been linked to a powerful painkiller called oxycodone.
But some are also linked to prescription opioids, such as OxyContin, which are widely prescribed by doctors.
Kentucky has about 1.6 million residents, the AP said.
About 3,400 people died from opioid overdoses in the state last year, with many from prescription painkillers.
More than half of those deaths were linked to oxycodones.
Many people think marijuana is a natural remedy for their pain.
But there is little evidence to support its medical benefits.
“There’s no proof that marijuana helps with chronic pain,” Dr. James Fauci, a University of Kentucky associate professor of medicine, told the AP.
“I’ve used it in my practice for years, and I’ve seen nothing.
It’s a little more like the old adage about the cat that won’t sit still.”
Dr. David W. Fuhrman, a former professor of orthopedics at the University of Tennessee, said people should not rely on the anecdotal evidence of the medical marijuana industry.
“The vast majority of the people I know who have used marijuana for medical purposes, and who have no health problems, have not had any adverse effects,” he said.
Fuhrmann also said it is a matter of personal responsibility to understand the risks associated with marijuana.
“If you do use it, it should be used with caution,” he told the Associated News.
“It’s a highly addictive drug, and if you’re over a certain dosage, you can end up doing more harm than good.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.