Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jul 2016
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2016 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: George Mathis


Georgia may never =93free the weed=94 but legalized
medical marijuana could save taxpayers millions,
say University of Georgia researchers.

In a recent study, the father-daughter team of
David and Ashley Bradford say in the 17 states
with a medical marijuana law in place by 2013,
Medicare saved approximately $165.2 million
because of lower prescription drug use.

If medical marijuana was approved in every state,
the overall savings to Medicare would have been
around $468 million. That's a lot of green. David
Bradford said he knows medical marijuana is a
controversial topic, and some view it as a
backdoor way of legalizing recreational
marijuana, but research indicates =93there's a
significant amount of clinical use at work here.=94

Medical marijuana was approved by Georgia Gov.
Nathan Deal this year, but there's a major loophole.

Georgians who suffer from cancer, sickle cell and
other illnesses can legally possess up to 20
ounces of cannabis oil, if a physician approves,
but it's illegal to buy the stuff locally.

Federal law bans interstate transport of any form
of the drug so you can't have it shipped to your
house. Thus, parents of sick children must travel
to other states and smuggle it back into Georgia
like Burt Reynolds did Coors (only without a
black Trans Am and all the car chases, probably).

Aside from saving money, medical marijuana may
also save lives. The UGA study found doctors in
states where medical marijuana is legal write fewer prescriptions.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury
death for Americans, killing more people than
guns or car crashes, according to the DEA.

Americans, like Russian Olympians, support their pharmacists.

In 2014, U.S. consumers spent $374 billion on
legal prescription medicine (and more than $100 billion on illegal drugs).

The U.S. pays more for medicine because we get charged more.

Most countries have a single large purchaser of
prescription medicine =AD the government =AD and they
wield substantial bargaining power. But federal
law prohibits Medicare, the largest single U.S.
payer for prescription drugs, from negotiating prices.

And Medicare, unlike Nancy Reagan, can't =93just
say no.=94 By law, Medicare has to purchase drugs
the FDA approves in six categories including
=93antidepressants=94 and =93antipsychotics.=94

The U.S. is about the only country that allows
drug companies to advertise directly to patients,
which explains why I may name my children Latuda, Lunesta and Celebrex.

In 2014, drug makers spent $4.5 billion in such
advertising. Another $24 billion promoted pills directly to doctors.

With the pharmaceutical lobby outspending
insurance companies by a wide margin, we won't
see doctors handing out free medical marijuana samples anytime soon.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom