Medical Marijuana

New Studies Find that Marijuana Is Helping to Ease Opioid Abuse

New studies seem to indicate that in states with medical marijuana, there have been lower incidences of opioid abuse and overdose.

As reported by NPR,  medical marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic, according to two recently published stories.

The research suggests that some people turn to marijuana as a way to treat their pain, and by so doing, avoid more dangerous addictive drugs. The findings are the latest to lend support to the idea that some people are willing to substitute marijuana for opioids and other prescription drugs.

Many people end up abusing opioid drugs such as oxycodone and heroin after starting off with a legitimate prescription for pain. The authors argue that people who avoid that first prescription are less likely to end up as part of the opioid epidemic.

“We do know that cannabis is much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency,” says W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia. “And certainly there’s no mortality risk” from the drug itself.

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The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says there’s good evidence that cannabis is effective at treating pain for some conditions. So Bradford and three colleagues — including his scientist daughter — decided to see whether people who can get easy access to medical marijuana are less likely to get prescription opioids. The answer, they report in JAMA Internal Medicine, is yes.

“There are substantial reductions in opiate use” in states that have initiated dispensaries for medical marijuana, he says.

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To learn more about how the use of marijuana for pain relief is helping to ease the opioid crisis, please visit NPR.

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