New Studies: Opioid Use Lower In States That Eased Marijuana Laws

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While Attorney General Jeff Sessions and many inside the Trump administration continue to wage a war on cannabis legalization, two recent reports reveal evidence that marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report that there’s solid evidence that cannabis is effective in treating pain. So W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia and three of his colleagues — including his scientist daughter — studied the severity of the opioid epidemic in states that allow medical marijuana.

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“We do know that cannabis is much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency,” Bradford said. “And certainly there’s no mortality risk” from cannabis itself, according to the report published in JAMA.

“Medical cannabis laws are associated with significant reductions in opioid prescribing in the Medicare Part D population,” according to a study conducted at the University of Georgia. “This finding was particularly strong in states that permit dispensaries, and for reductions in hydrocodone and morphine prescriptions.”
In the second study, researchers at the University of Kentucky and Emory University found that “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.”

The team of researchers discovered states that have passed medical cannabis or recreational 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.”

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