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Studies: Marijuana Legalization Associated With Reduced Opioid Prescribing Trends

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 2, 2018

    The enactment of marijuana legalization laws is associated with a significant reduction in the number of opioids prescribed and filled, according to a pair of studies published online today in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

    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. They reported:

    “State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing. Moreover, the implementation of adult-use marijuana laws, which all occurred in states with existing medical marijuana laws, was associated with a 6.38 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing. … [T]he further reductions in opioid prescribing associated with the newly implemented adult-use marijuana laws suggest that there were individuals beyond the reach of medical marijuana laws who may also benefit from using marijuana in lieu of opioids. Our finding that the lower opioid prescribing rates associated with adult-use marijuana laws were pronounced in Schedule II opioids further suggest that reaching these individuals may have greater potential to reduce the adverse consequences, such as opioid use disorder and overdose.”

    The full text of the study, “Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees,” is available here.

    In the second study, University of Georgia researchers evaluated the association between the enactment of medical cannabis access laws and opioid prescribing patterns under Medicare Part D. They reported:

    “This longitudinal analysis of Medicare Part D found that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state instituted any medical cannabis law. Prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 3.742 million daily doses per year when medical cannabis dispensaries opened. … Combined with previously published studies suggesting cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid mortality, these findings further strengthen arguments in favor of considering medical applications of cannabis as one tool in the policy arsenal that can be used to diminish the harm of prescription opioids.”

    The full text of the study, “Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Prescribing in the Medicare Part D Population,” is available here.

    Both findings are consistent with those of numerous prior studies finding that cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, mortality, and overall prescription drug spending. A compilation of these studies is available in the NORML fact-sheet here.

    14 responses to “Studies: Marijuana Legalization Associated With Reduced Opioid Prescribing Trends”

    1. Julian says:

      Paul;
      Next time you end up in a debate with Lying-@44-Bertha Madras, (who currently is heading Trumps’ opioid commission and works for the ONDCP), you can now say the JAMA report of 2014 that shows a %37 reduction in opioid addiction and nearly %25 reduction in opioid related suicides in states with legal medical or recreational adult cannabis markets is now LONGITUDINAL.
      I remember when she defended prohibition in NE Cali’s Federal Court when the Judge Mueller said “Congress doesn’t have to be right.” Her biggest argument was that the studies showing lives saved by marijuana were not “longitudinal.” That’s like saying “Well, these traffick lights are saving lives, but they’re not longitudinal so let’s let people keep dying so we can see what happens.”

      She’s a murderer with blood money all over her hands.

      Now Bertha is using lethal false equivalencies between current marijuana legalization and the “opioid craze” from 100 years ago. Racist laws that began with the world’s first Opioid Conventions for prohibition more than a CENTURY ago. That’s some lethal, vintage, longitudinal racism if I ever heard it.

      Everybody COPY AND PASTE this study to our next letter to our Congressman! Click on the green hyperlink “according…” copy, then click on the ACT tab and paste it into the prescripted letter to customize it.

    2. Mark Mitcham says:

      Sometimes I feel like we’re living in a Mike Meyers movie, where all corporations have merged, and Dr. Evil rules the world. If you say something is good, he says “Good is bad.” If you say something is bad, he says “Bad is good!”

      Reducing opiate addiction and associated health problems is a good thing, right?!

      Then count on the goddamn Republicans to vigorously oppose it!!

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        The Republicans now openly oppose the very concept of social justice. They call us who give a shit “snowflakes.” In fact, they openly oppose Justice itself! They cover for Traitor Trump; but everyone knows Trump is a criminal and a bigot and a traitor.

        So what goddamn good are they? No good at all.

        Don’t listen to their horseshit any more, just vote them out.

        • Sean says:

          Mark: The Trump supporting despicables are the true snowflakes that get easily triggered. They take zero responsibility for the fact that their lives suck because of themselves.

          • Mark Mitcham says:

            I work around a lot of these sick fucks.

            They market their cult of Hate, they perpetually judge and condemn everyone else they don’t like, and they absolutely refuse to engage in critical thinking or self-examination.

            They are nauseating.

    3. Don M says:

      Trump’s Attorney General, Jeffrey Sessions, says using marijuana to help with the opioid problem is the stupidest thing ever.

      Personally, I think the current White House is just about the stupidest thing ever!

    4. Dianne says:

      Opiate prescriptions are down because doctors REFUSE to prescribe them anymore, not because all of the legitimate pain patients have voluntarily decided that they’d rather use cannabis instead of opiates. They’re forcing people to turn to cannabis. Unfortunately, some people just can’t tolerate THC & CBD is not the magic cure all

      • Julian says:

        Dianne, where on earth did you get this lop-sided information? It only takes one bad doctor, one bad border patrol agent, one bad judge and one bad cop to make a corruption ring. Lets focus on reforming the one bad law that creates it: The Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

    5. Sean says:

      Jeff Sessions on opioid addiction: Let them take aspirin.

    6. Todd says:

      “Today, more than 90 Americans a day die from opioid overdose, resulting in more than 42,000 deaths per year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdose recently overtook vehicular accidents and shooting deaths as the most common cause of accidental death in the United States, the CDC says.” — Mark Lieber, CNN

      The notion that hearing voices telling you what to do is a mental illness, called Schizophrenia, does not make sense, since then how would you know “what is 1+1?” if a voice you hear didn’t say “2”. Furthermore, the notion that mental illness needs to exist at all does not make sense either, since then how would you transition from mental health to mental illness if a voice you hear didn’t say “I am now ill”. Thought processes such as reaching a conclusion occur presented as a topic of some already aware monolog to which we are already listening, making mental health inherited from before any idea of illness. Importantly, as we urge the safe exploration of the human mind, to prevent Schizophrenia one needs to know these concepts first from their education.

    7. Michelle O’Rourke says:

      This is why they are fighting so hard. It is finally time for people not to be accused of doing drugs because tbey refuse this opioid addictied society.

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