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Studies show legal marijuana could help curb opioid crisis

04 Avril 2018

Exceptions would be made for people with medical marijuana licences, as well as for festivals where people could consume cannabis in areas similar to beer gardens.

The other study, which monitored Medicaid opioid prescriptions, found that participants filled almost 40 fewer opioid prescriptions per 1,000 people (4%) each year after their state passed laws that made cannabis accessible - states that legalized both medical and recreational marijuana showed greater falls in opioid prescriptions. States that allow homegrown marijuana for medical purposes resulted in an estimated 1.8 million fewer pills prescribed per day.

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that opioid overdoses now usurp shooting deaths and auto accidents as the most common cause of accidental death in this country. State-specific data from cannabis-access jurisdictions have consistently established that in regions where medical cannabis access is permitted, patients routinely decrease their opioid intake.

Scott Greenlee, president of the Healthy and Productive Michigan political action committee, which is opposed to the ballot proposal, has begun doing presentations to groups across the state saying that his stance against the ballot measure has nothing to do with medical marijuana, only recreational use.

"Marijuana is one of the potential alternative drugs that can provide relief from pain at a relatively lower risk of addiction and virtually no risk of overdose", Wen and Hockenberry write. Alongside three colleagues, he researched folks who had easier access to medical marijuana and found that they would be less likely to get prescription opioids. Researchers reported that medicalization, and specifically the establishment of brick-and-mortar cannabis dispensing facilities, correlated with significantly reduced opioid prescription drug use. Patients in states that only allowed them to grow pot at home showed about 7 percent fewer doses.

Results did vary based on the type of opioid, however. While some deaths may be due to illegal narcotics like heroin, others are caused by opioid medications like oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone.

What do you think of the two new studies' findings?

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report that there's solid evidence that cannabis is effective in treating pain.

Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said Tuesday that it's unknown how the most recent lawsuit will impact the agency's ability to implement the statutory limitations on the number of dispensing facilities each medical marijuana treatment center may operate. Instead, it should be a back-up option for patients who are struggling to manage pain and who could be in danger of addiction.

Studies show legal marijuana could help curb opioid crisis