Cannabis Could Potentially Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic
According to Shyam Raman and Ashley Bradford, the researchers from the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and Indiana University, the legalization of recreational marijuana lowers the demand for expensive prescription medications obtained via state Medicaid channels.
In other words, when States legalize cannabis, the number of opioid drug prescriptions for pain, anxiety, sleep, depression, psychosis, and seizures drops dramatically.
Raman and Bradford based their research on a review of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in all 50 states (from 2011 to 2019).
What makes this study, in particular, stand out?
Well, while the primary purpose of various cannabis studies is to evaluate the effect of medical marijuana on prescription drug use or the impact of recreational marijuana legalization on opioid usage, this is the first to look at how personal use affects a wide range of prescription medications.
According to Raman, the decreases in drug use might result in substantial cost savings for state Medicaid programs. The findings also suggest the possibility of lowering the damage that can result from prescription medications’ undesirable side effects.
Medical marijuana is now legal in almost 40 states. However, a licensed physician still has to give the recommendation. Moreover, recreational marijuana has been legalized in at least 20 states, but that figure is expected to increase.
In those states, Raman and Bradford discovered a significant decrease in demand for drugs that treat anxiety and insomnia, but no discernible impact on drugs for treating nausea.