New studies are showing that medical marijuana is having a positive effect on the opioid abuse epidemic. Researchers are suggesting that certain people chose marijuana to treat their pain instead of more dangerous addictive drugs. This means that there is growing proof that supports the fact that some people substitute medical marijuana over opioids and many other prescription drugs. The opioid abuse epidemic starts with many people abusing drugs like oxycodone and heroin to address their legitimate pain. The authors of these newer studies state that people who never receive their first prescription are less likely to become an opioid abuser.
W. David Bradford, who is a professor at the University of Georgia, explains “We do know that cannabis is much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency. And certainly there’s no mortality risk.” Bradford and 3 other colleagues determined that people who have easy access to medical marijuana are less likely to obtain prescription opioid drugs. Bradford claims “substantial reduction in opiate use.”
The data of the studies originated from Medicare, therefore the age group of the data is mostly over 65. The difference is 14% of the states with medical marijuana and states without. That is 14% less people using opioids in states that have medical marijuana programs. To put this percentage into actual number of pills, the study shows this 14% reduction equivalates to a 3.7 million daily dose reduction of opioids. However the actual number of daily opioid doses being prescribed nationwide is actually increasing every year and this study only had historical data from 2010 – 2015. If the study took estimated 2018 doses, the actual number of daily opioid doses would be much larger. The study continues to suggest that more research is needed to investigate the correlation, which is difficult as the federal government regards marijuana as a very dangerous drug and puts tight control on research.