Prescription Opioid Abuse Rates Drop in Medical Marijuana States
States with medical cannabis experience a noticeable dip in opioid abuse.
Data gathered by health benefits provider Castlight Health indicates that when medical marijuana is available, people experiencing pain are less likely to overuse opioid prescription pills.
In states with medical cannabis, only 2.8% of the population abused opioid prescriptions whereas in states without medical cannabis, 5.4% of the population abused their opioid prescriptions. That discrepancy represents a significant one: people in states without medical marijuana laws are twice as likely to abuse an opioid prescription.
As NORML notes, this finding is in line with what two other significant studies discovered in the last two years. In 2014, one study by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found that states with medical marijuana experienced less opioid overdoses while in 2015, RAND found that states with medical marijuana had less opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
Considering “one out of every three (32%) of opioid prescriptions are abused”, medical marijuana certainly appears to be at least the partial solution to solving this national epidemic. Moreover, the CDC just recommended that doctors stop testing opioid patients for marijuana, a policy change that would allow these patients to use medical marijuana without worrying about losing their pain medicine and thus reducing abuse rates.
Opioid abuse in America is a vast epidemic (see: Prince) with no end or cure in near sight. Marijuana may just be the answer to at least containing this epidemic.
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