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Legal marijuana linked to reduction in opioid prescriptions

Although many individuals believe that the opioid crisis is mainly focused on the overprescription of these drugs, it is clear that there is a large group of individuals who are using black market opioids, that could benefit from marijuana use instead.

The report has found specifically that legalizing medical marijuana is highly associated with lower levels of opioid related deaths, in states that have put forth legislation to make marijuana legal.

Additionally, researchers found a 14.5 percent reduction in any opiate use in states operating legal marijuana dispensaries.

One looked at trends in opioid prescribing under Medicaid, which covers low-income adults, between 2011 and 2016. Opioid prescriptions fell by 2.21 million daily doses per year, on average, in states that legalized medical marijuana - an 8.5-percent decrease - compared with opioid prescriptions in states that didn't legalize the drug.

Vermont Business Magazine In a startling report released today, National Safety Council research shows just 13 states and Washington, DC, have implemented comprehensive, proven actions to eliminate opioid overdoses and help protect their residents.

At the same time, Hill says medical marijuana should not be given a lead role in treating chronic pain. "These findings suggest that medical and adult-use marijuana laws have the potential to reduce opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees, a segment of population with disproportionately high risk for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose".

The study noted that opioid-related deaths decreased by more than 6 percent over two years and researchers are hoping to see if the trend is replicated in states such as Washington and OR that have also legalized marijuana.

But states with medical pot dispensaries filled 3.7 million fewer daily doses, and states with home cultivation filled 1.8 million fewer doses, they said. The first link that they determined shows that states that have adopted new laws regarding medical marijuana with tight regulation, were able to meet the demands of the states to a high degree.

"Patients and physicians seem to be responding to the introduction of medical cannabis as if it were medicine - in many ways as they would with the introduction of a new FDA-approved medical treatment", said study coauthor W. David Bradford, a researcher at the University of Georgia in Athens.

"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. The findings in Medicaid and Medicare patients may not apply to other people. Also, it's unclear from the studies exactly how much marijuana use was for medical versus recreational purposes or how much people might have relied on other non-opioid painkillers.

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