JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott declared a public health emergency Wednesday calling Florida's opioid abuse problem an epidemic.

In Jacksonville, the medical examiner's office estimates 544 people died in 2016 due to opioid overdose, a number unprecedented compared to previous years.

A common claim by those advocating for the legalization of marijuana is that cannabis use can help bring down opioid abuse numbers. 

Using the data states sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reviewing the 29 states that have had medical marijuana laws, only 12 states have had regulations on the books for more than a decade. Of these, nine states including Montana, Colorado and Nevada saw a reduction in opioid overdose deaths after passings laws permitting some form of medical marijuana.

University of California San Diego published a study in 2016 linking medical marijuana laws to a reduction in opioid overdoses. The Health Affairs Journal echoed these results, finding that painkiller abuse and addiction dropped 23 percent and overdoses dropped 13 percent.