For those of us familiar with the effectiveness of medical marijuana this may not be surprising – but it’s definitely not news Big Pharma’s likely to be happy about: A new study has found that states with legalized medical marijuana programs see far fewer opioid related deaths.
In particular, data analysis revealed that hospitals failed to see the predicted uptick of pot smokers cross through their doors, but instead found a substantial drop in opioid users.
While fears that the legalization of medical marijuana would lead to an increase of cannabis-related hospitalizations were proven to be unfounded, researchers discovered opioid overdoses decreased by 13 percent.
“[M]edical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers,” study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego, told Reuters. “This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary.”
Analyzing the hospital records of 27 states — nine of which have medical marijuana laws in effect — from 1997 through 2014, Shi’s study was the fifth to show significant declines in opioid use or deaths in states that had legalized medical cannabis.
An estimated 60 percent of Americans live within the twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C. that now have medical marijuana laws, even though a 1970 federal law puts cannabis in the same category as heroin, a schedule one drug. Incredibly, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also continues to staunchly uphold its position that marijuana has no medically valid use. Consequently, doctors can only recommend, not prescribe, marijuana, and physicians who work for the federal government cannot even discuss medical marijuana.
Physicians can however freely prescribe opioid drugs, which have quadrupled in use since 1999. These highly addictive opioids kill 91 Americans a day.
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