According to a new study, states that have medical marijuana programs are experiencing lower rates of opioid addiction and overdoses. While critics of legal marijuana have long fear mongered and said that having access to the plant would negatively impact public health the study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, seems to paint a different story.
In states with medical marijuana, hospital visits for complications from prescription painkillers are dropping, hospitalization rates for opioid abuse and dependence are roughly 23 percent lower than states without legal access, and emergency room visits for opioid overdoses are around 13 percent lower than states without medical marijuana programs.
Medical researchers do not claim that pot will solve the opioid epidemic, but it is clear that marijuana is an effective alternative to the painkillers that often lead to heroin abuse. In fact, when given the choice, around “63 percent of patients in the study chose marijuana due to reduced side effects and because it is far less addictive than their prescription medication. Patients also said they were better able to manage their symptoms by using weed.”
Dr Esther Choo, professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, said, “It is becoming increasingly clear that battling the opioid epidemic will require a multi-pronged approach and a good deal of creativity. Could increased liberalization of marijuana be part of the solution? It seems plausible.”
One thing is for certain, we are in the middle of an epidemic. In 2015, 33,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses and the problem doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Source: The Libertarian Republic