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Studies link legal marijuana with fewer opioid prescriptions

Recent studies have shown that states with easy access to medical marijuana have significantly lower rates of opiate prescriptions such as hydrocodone and oxycondone.

Researchers from the University of Kentucky collected and examined Medicare data that detailed opioid prescribing patterns between 2010 and 2015.

"It's frankly not surprising that they show there's less opioids being prescribed when there is an alternative of medical marijuana being provided and that goes along with other studies that are similar showing things like opioid deaths are reduced when marijuana's available as an alternative", said LSU Health Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Ross DeLeonardo.

That number climbs even higher in states where recreational weed is legal, not just medical marijuana, with 3.74 million fewer daily doses.

Alanna McCatty is founder and CEO of McCatty Scholars, an organization that devises and implements financial literacy programs for students to combat the nationwide issue of the loss of educational opportunity due to the ramifications of burdensome student debt. It's hard to do a study in this area because the federal government regards marijuana as a very unsafe drug and puts tight controls on research. She is a graduate of Pace University.

"As somebody who treats patients with opioid use disorders, this crisis is very real".

"We've seen it here locally in Cumberland, Maryland where we have opioid patients that we're able to reduce their dose but again it's something that needs to be done in conjunction with the prescribing provider so that you can work out a regimen that will make the patient successful", said RX Greenhouse CEO Sajal Roy. "But that means that we don't know what's going on with the privately insured and the uninsured population, and for that, I'm afraid the data sets are proprietary and expensive".

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The analysis found a correlation and can't prove that marijuana use led to a reduction in the growth of opioid use.

In the USA, 90 people a day die from an opioid overdose, according to the JAMA article.

New research has revealed that 80 percent of older Americans support using medical marijuana on a doctor's recommendation. States that allowed homegrown marijuana for medical use saw an estimated 1.8 million fewer pills dispensed per day. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to crack down on marijuana cases, with some exceptions.

"We found that there was about a 14.5% reduction in any opiate use when dispensaries were turned on - and that was statistically significant - and about a 7% reduction in any opiate use when home cultivation only was turned on", Bradford said.

A local emergency room doctor is skeptical about a study that seems to favor legalizing marijuana. The remaining 89 applications were started by RMDs seeking to add the ability to sell marijuana to adults who are not medical patients.

"There is a growing body of scientific literature suggesting that legal access to marijuana can reduce the use of opioids as well as opioid-related overdose deaths", said Melissa Moore, New York deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. But there may be an important difference between illicit cannabis use and legalized cannabis use, according to Hill. According the report, this can result in societal savings of $140,000 per patient, while prolonging the lives of people whose life expectancy is relatively short by an average of three years.

Olfson says what they really need is studies that follow individuals, to see whether marijuana use really does supplant opioids. "I believe there are also ballot measures to legalize marijuana in Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota as well that voters will decide on in Fall 2018". "But unfortunately, the policies have far outpaced the science at this point".

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