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Fewer opioids prescribed in states with medical marijuana, research shows

Published on 12/06/19 at 09:58am

Fewer opioids are prescribed in states with legal medical marijuana, according to research from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

All in all, the number of opioid prescriptions has tripled in the past 25 years. This increase in the number of prescriptions has in turn seen the number of opioid related deaths rise as the US saw 29,406 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in 2017 alone.

The study’s senior author Mukaila Raji, UTMB professor and director, Division of Geriatrics Medicine, explained: “We found that the overall prescription opioid use increased by age, which we expected."

"But, when we looked at the results within different age groups, opioid prescription rates varied depending on the stringency of state cannabis laws. In particular, states that implemented medical cannabis laws had lower rates of opioid prescription in people aged 18 to 54.”

The study published in the journal Preventative Medicine gives credence to medicinal cannabis’ use as an alternative to opioid painkillers.

“As more states enact laws legalizing medical use of cannabis, there is growing interest in cannabis as a potential agent to mitigate harmful effects associated with synthetic opioid use,” Raji said.

“Earlier studies that analysed data from Medicaid and Medicare enrolees suggest a relationship between cannabis laws and lower opioid use, but we're the first to explore whether this link is mirrored among commercially insured adults - which encompasses a wide range of ages and other demographics”

Louis Goss

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