Pubdate: Wed, 25 May 2016
Source: Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Daily Times
Author: Lucas Rodgers

Medical Marijuana


Can the legalization of one drug help decrease abuse of another drug? 
It's possible that medical marijuana could be used to fight the 
epidemic of opioid addiction that has resulted in numerous deaths 
from overdoses in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention (CDC) from 2014, 46 people die every day in the United 
States from an overdose of prescription opioid or narcotic 
painkillers, such as Vicodin (hydrocodone-acetaminophen), OxyContin 
(oxycodone), Opana (oxymorphone), and methadone. The CDC found that 
in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for 
painkillers, which is enough for every American adult to have a 
bottle of pills.

And there's proof that medical marijuana can help decrease opioid 
abuse. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical 
Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine in 2014 found that the annual 
rate of deaths from opioid overdoses decreased by 25 percent in 
states that legalized medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010.

However, the study concluded that although there is evidence of an 
association between medical marijuana laws and reductions in deaths 
from opioid overdoses, further research and evaluation are needed 
before wide adoption of medical marijuana can be recommended as a way 
to reduce the risks of opioid use.

A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research 
and the RAND Corporation in 2015 concluded that "states permitting 
medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both 
opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that 
do not. ... Our findings suggest that providing broader access to 
medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of 
highly addictive painkillers."

The researchers found that this "mitigating effect" of medical 
marijuana laws is specific only to states that permit marijuana 
dispensaries, but it does not hold true in states that don't have or 
don't allow dispensaries.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom