Legalizing Marijuana Could Help Fight the Opioid Epidemic, New Research Says

Publication date: Jan 08, 2020

The study published this month in the Journal of Health Economics found that states that legalized recreational or medical marijuana saw a decline in the number of opioid have been talking about cannabis as a substitute for opioid for years,u201d said Benjamin McMichael, a law professor at the University of Alabama and the studyu2019s lead researcher.

u201cWe focused on the individual provider level to provide a uniquely insightful look at how individual doctors changed their prescribing habits when marijuana is available. u201d The study found that a state allowing either medical or recreational marijuana use reduced the total number of patients receiving opioids, the number of days opioids were prescribed for, and the likelihood an individual provider would prescribe opioids.

The data examined by the researchers included 1. 5 billion opioid prescriptions between 2011 and 2018, which they said represented about 90% of all opioid prescriptions in that time frame. u00a0 States with access to medical marijuana saw a 4. 2% reduction in the rate of opioid prescriptions, while states with access to recreational marijuana saw an 11. 8% reduction.

u201cRecreational laws are more facilitative, so even if a doctor might be reluctant to prescribe, itu2019s easier to gain access. u201d The new research is in line with smaller studies that have looked at opioid prescriptions filled under Medicare and Medicaid in states with medical marijuana laws.

very little is known about the efficacy, dose, routes of administration or side effects of commonly used and commercially available cannabis products in the United States. u201d In New Hampshire, where only medical marijuana is legal, activists are pushing for a recreational laws and a similar policy to the one in Illinois that would encourage the drug as a substitute for opioids.

Researchers in the recent Health Economics study, however, found that u201cmany of these policies simply limit access to opioids and may push individuals already dependent on prescription opioids to more dangerous drugs, such as heroin. u201d Because of that, McMichael said he favors marijuana legalization as a tool for combating the opioid epidemic.

Concepts Keywords
Addiction Pain management
Alabama Drugs
Bruce Rauner Psychoactive drugs
Cancer Health
Cannabis Euphoriants
Chris Sununu Morphine
Chronic Pain Herbalism
Hampshire Medicinal plants
Heroin Opioid epidemic
Illinois Heroin
Kentucky Pain management
Marijuana Cannabis products
Marijuana Dispensaries Individual doctors
Marijuana Legalization
Medicinal Marijuana
Opioid Epidemic
Pain Management
Prescription Drug
United States
Washington Post
West Virginia


Type Source Name
drug DRUGBANK Medical Cannabis
disease MESH habits
disease MESH recreational marijuana use
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
disease MESH chronic pain
disease MESH cancer
drug DRUGBANK Diamorphine


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