New Research Finds Fewer Opioid Scripts in Medical Marijuana States

Brand new research suggests that medical cannabis use could help reduce America’s dependence on opioids.

Two new studies, published in JAMA Internal Medicine Monday, bolster earlier research into the nascent science of cannabis use to treat chronic pain. The researchers looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2015 and those covered by Medicaid from 2011 to 2016. In states that had legalized medical marijuana, they found 2.21 million fewer prescriptions to these highly addictive painkillers. After states legalized medical cannabis, opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid similarly dropped nearly 6%.

It's not fully clear what accounted for the reduced prescriptions. But "the study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications," said its lead author David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia. "And for pain patients in particular, our work adds to the argument that cannabis can be effective."

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