New Research Suggests Legal Marijuana Could Curb The Opioid Epidemic

New Research Suggests Legal Marijuana Could Curb The Opioid Epidemic

A separate study of adults insured by Medicaid, the U.S. health program for the poor, found medical marijuana laws associated with an nearly 6% decline in opioid prescriptions.

Studies have found medical pot is effective in treating chronic pain, Bradford said.

In the second study, Ashley Bradford, David Bradford and Amanda Abraham of the University of Georgia found that at the state level, medical marijuana laws were associated with an 8.5 percent reduction in the number of daily opioid doses filled under Medicare Part D, relative to states without medical marijuana laws.

North Carolina's largest health insurer is clamping down on coverage of opioid prescriptions. "These findings suggest that medical and adult-use marijuana laws have the potential to reduce opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees, a segment of population with disproportionately high risk for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose".

After comprehensive evaluations of data and prevention strategies, the National Safety Council identified the following six key actions that could have immediate and sustained impact addressing the opioid epidemic.

The report said 85 percent of opioid-related deaths were caused by the victim taking one or more opioid drugs, with a 27 percent increase in deaths due to illegal fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.

More news: Israel's Netanyahu Puts African Migrant Deal With UNHCR on Hold

Bottom Line: Two studies examine the relationship between legal cannabis use and opioid prescriptions. Beside the toll in lives and health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates prescription opioid abuse is an $78.5 billion drain on the US economy each year. "Papers like these two suggest that cannabis may play a role". The latest studies suggest that such a painkiller already exists - it is called marijuana, and it is legal for medical use in 29 states and for recreational use in nine states plus D.C.

Opioids are a class of strong pain medications, including drugs such as OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen). They found that the rates of opioid prescribing in states that had legalized medical marijuana dropped by 5.9 percent annually, on average.

Each day, 90 Americans die from opioid overdoses, Hill notes in JAMA Internal Medicine, where both studies were published.

The two studies have some limitations, Dr. Kevin Hill of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Andrew Saxon of the University of Washington in Seattle wrote in an accompanying editorial. The fast-growing opioid crisis is more relevant than HIV/AIDS today and needs more funding to educate people and provide more treatment facilities.

Response: Marijuana is one of the potential, non-opioid alternatives that can relieve pain at a relatively lower risk of addiction and virtually no risk of overdose.

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