Medicine

Marijuana could help reduce opioid addiction, study says

Marijuana could help reduce opioid addiction, study says

"Nevertheless, marijuana liberalization alone can not solve the opioid epidemic".

Opioid prescribing has dramatically increased over the past 15 years, the report states.

"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.

In the first study, investigators from the University of Kentucky and Emory University assessed the association between medical and adult-use marijuana laws with opioid prescribing rates and spending among Medicaid enrollees.

"With medical marijuana already legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and other states considering legalizing this use or all use, this is an issue of interest to patients, providers and policymakers alike", poll director Dr. Preeti Malani, a specialist in the treatment of older patients, said in a university news release. "Regardless, our findings suggest quite clearly that medical cannabis could be one useful tool in the policy arsenal that can be used to diminish the harm of prescription opioids, and that's worthy of serious consideration". But some research suggests marijuana may encourage opioid use, and so might make the epidemic worse.

As the country's opinion of marijuana has evolved so have our state laws on the drug. Over-prescribing is considered a key factor in the opioid epidemic.

More news: Designer of Schlitterbahn water slide arrested in DFW Airport

According to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, prescriptions filled for opioids decrease by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state adopted a medical cannabis law. Patients in states that only allowed them to grow pot at home showed about 7 percent fewer doses.

"We do know that cannabis is much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency", University of Georgia professor W. David Bradford, who helped conduct the study, said.

Bradford said that while medical marijuana could decrease opioid use, "it is not without risks".

To investigate this theory, the investigators turned to recent data from the federal insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid.

This, researchers say, is a result of physicians being more willing to use opioid medications to treat chronic and acute pain in the community.


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