More and more studies are showing that one of the best ways to combat the opioid epidemic is to legalize medical marijuana. Rates of opioid prescriptions are lower in states with legal medical marijuana, according to a recent study from the University of Texas, writes Calvin Hughes. The drop in prescription opioid use was most notable among patients 55 or younger.
«When results were examined within each individual age cohort, opioid prescription rate varied depending on the stringency of state cannabis laws,» the study authors wrote. «In particular, in states which implemented medical cannabis use laws (but not other categories of cannabis liberalization laws), lower rates of opioid prescription were seen in the younger age cohorts (18–25, 26–35, 36–45 and 46–54 years).»
The study looked at data collected from more than four million private medical insurance subscribers. Researchers noted that individuals with private insurance «may exhibit different behaviors from Medicare and Medicaid subpopulations with regards to cannabis use.» As such, patients who have publicly funded medical insurance may not see similarly reduced rates of prescription opioid use in states with legal medical marijuana.
This study follows a number of others which similarly showed reduced use of and overdose by opioids in states with legal medical marijuana.
However, their findings clearly showed the «lowest rates of opioid prescription in states that allowed for medical cannabis use» among those with private insurance.
Additionally, several states like New Jersey have implemented program allowing patients to treat opioid addictions with the help of medical marijuana.
Since Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than from car crashes, we just hope that these studies will push more states to help patients move from opioids to safe, effective medical marijuana.