States With Legal Cannabis Have Lower Opioid Prescriptions And Related Deaths

April 25, 2018

Medicinal cannabis with extract oil

Medical marijuana may provide the pain relief for chronic pain patients that opioids can’t provide. According to two recent studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a publication of the American Medical Association, states with medical cannabis laws have significant reductions in opioid prescriptions.

“This finding was particularly strong in states that permit dispensaries, and for reductions in hydrocodone and morphine prescriptions,” said researchers from one study at the University of Georgia, Athens.

The researchers of the second study from the University of Kentucky and Emory University also said that cannabis has virtually no risk of overdose and a lower risk of addiction.

The studies found the easier it is for Americans to access legal marijuana, the lower the rate of opioid use. For instance, California not only has legal recreational marijuana but also one of the lowest rates of opioid-related deaths in the country.

According to the studies, states with medical marijuana laws have a 5.88% lower rate of opioid prescriptions than the national average. In comparison, states with recreational marijuana laws for adults have a 6.38% lower rate of opioid prescriptions.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008 and has helped patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and nail patella. Patients also qualify if they experience nausea, seizures, muscle spasms, wasting syndrome, and chronic pain.

Chronic pain is described as a severe discomfort that lasts longer than three months. Chronic pain can be caused by a number of ailments including orthopaedic impairments, which affect one out of seven Americans, and arthritis, which affects over 50 million Americans.

Chronic pain may also be the result of spinal injuries from car accidents. For instance, up to 6 million car accidents occur in the U.S. every year. South Carolina alone has 62% more fatal car accidents than the national average of 3,287.

Spinal damage and head injuries are often experienced by the survivors of these car accidents. Andrew Somarty was one such survivor who’s suffered from chronic pain since he was in a car accident 12 years ago.

Somarty says he was nervous to use the opiates prescribed to him by his doctor.

“There’s creams and topicals that they make with cannabis that alleviate the pain within 2-4 minutes,” said Somarty. “And they give you relief for four hours or more and there’s no side effects. I don’t understand why I should be a victim of a pill.”

According to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), that reason could be the selfishness of pharmaceutical companies who oppose marijuana legalization for fear of competition. For pharmaceutical companies, Gillibrand says, the legalization of medical marijuana is a competition for chronic pain patients.

“[And] that’s outrageous,” said Gillibrand, “because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues. It’s not the same thing. It’s not as highly addictive as opioids are.”

The two recent studies aren’t the first of scientific research to suggest cannabis as a viable alternative for treating chronic pain. Another study published in 2014 that analyzed the nation’s opioid overdose rates between 1999 and 2010 found that states with medical marijuana laws had lower opioid overdose rates by 25%.

And that’s not all. The Kentucky and Emory team also found that not only marijuana use may also help to reduce withdrawal symptoms in those suffering from opioid use disorder.

“The potential of adult-use marijuana laws to reduce the use and consequences of addictive opioids deserves consideration,” said the Kentucky and Emory researchers. “Especially in states that have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.”

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2 Responses to States With Legal Cannabis Have Lower Opioid Prescriptions And Related Deaths

  1. Viagrapills Reply

    April 27, 2018 at 1:59 am

    For several decades now oligarchs (how come even real news only uses that word referenced to Russian?) have been selling Rand Tea and it”s as addictive as opioids. Just think your job, from corporations, pays you money. Government on the other hand costs you money. Easy choice for folks including “policy wonk Ryan. No more thought required. Rand Tea is like free opioids and the more you take the easier your life gets. What is wrong with those liberals tainted by the belief that we should do what the Constitution actually says obviously besotted by the ridiculous notion that there are no entitled classes of people. Short thinking is so easy and obvious. Long term thinking is so abstract and uncertain. This is why it took humanity thousands of years to think of liberal democracy and to enjoy the benefits for only 250 years before falling back on the opiates of the masses.

  2. tarifanaturalsurfhouse Reply

    April 26, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    How about some twins? Not sure about the win count Eric and Spencer MacColl- CMS Alex and Scott Chun- Emory

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