Legalization of Medical Cannabis to Lower Opioid Prescriptions

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New research reports that legalizing medical cannabis could be potential alternative for narcotics to treat pain

Researchers found that states with medical marijuana laws have lower opioid prescriptions than states without such laws. Opioid prescriptions are considered to be a major driver of the opioid abuse epidemic, where use of medical marijuana can be the solution. “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,” researchers mentioned in one of two reports pubNew research reports that legalizing medical cannabis could be potential alternative for narcotics to treat painlished in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine.

In the Medicare study, Wen and colleagues found that states with medical marijuana laws had a more than 8 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions compared to states with no such laws. Government of various countries aims to reduce overuse of opioid prescriptions. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, around 63,600 people died due drug overdoses in 2016. Researchers explained that marijuana use might be a gateway that moves people towards use of other drugs including opiates. The researchers cannot conclude people switched from opioid prescriptions to using a medical marijuana product. They also note that the findings only apply to people using Medicare and Medicaid, which are government health insurance plans for people who are elderly, disabled, low-income or pregnant.

Previous studies have reported that cannabis can help in reducing chronic pain. Therefore, 24 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing the medical use of cannabis. However, their use is restricted and anyone cannot use marijuana freely. “Patients with eligible conditions are expected to obtain recommendation from qualified physicians and enroll in a patient registry. Patients are then issued identification cards that allow them or their caregivers to possess a certain amount of marijuana through home cultivation and licensed dispensaries,” researchers added.

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