Opioid Abuse Is Dropping In States With Legal Marijuana. Here’s Why.

Over the last couple of years, the benefits of marijuana have spread like wildfire. Patients from all over the U.S. are trying to get approved to receive medical marijuana to treat their chronic pain. Much as pharmaceutical painkillers or specific black market drugs accomplished this task, the positive awareness of marijuana is driving patients to switch to this natural and non-addictive alternative, rather than use traditional medications.

And recent numbers prove it…at least in medical marijuana states. According to NBC News, The hospitalization rate for opioid abuse and dependence in states with medical marijuana are roughly 23 percent lower than states without legal access.

“Hospitalization rate dropped by 23% for opioid abuse”

Medical marijuana patients are achieving the same relief in their everyday life, without the worries of physical drug dependencies, or later on withdrawal. Not to mention, the costs involved. Without insurance, painkillers are incredibly pricey, and many in the United States are uninsured with no way of obtaining affordable medical care. To those suffering from chronic pain, the answer to their problems has become apparent- patients are seeking relief in the hands of medical marijuana.

According to an informative article1 published by HealthAffairs.org, “…Using data on all prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013, we found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented.”

In Which States is Marijuana Beating Opioids?

Plenty of research is constantly being released regarding this often controversial topic, but some medical marijuana embracing states have seen mind-blowing trends in patients switching over to medical cannabis, aiding in ending the opioid abuse epidemic.

As of now, medical cannabis is recognized in 28 states plus the District of Columbia. This number is only expected to rise as more and more individuals are witnessing the positive effects of medical cannabis legalization.

A study2 conducted by University of Michigan and published by U of M’s Michigan News reported “Patients using medical marijuana [in Ann Arbor, Michigan] to control chronic pain reported a 64 percent reduction in their use of more traditional prescription pain medications known as opioids.”

“64% of patients claim that they’ve reduced their dependence on opioids”

These results are massive evidence supporting claims stating medical marijuana legalization has been lowering opioid use. In fact, it was shown in one study3 conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center that, “[In states with legal medical marijuana]…the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal…”

“Legal marijuana states experience a 25% lower overdose rate”

Funny enough, when observing trends of which states prescribe the largest number of opioids in the U.S., the top 10 states except for one (Michigan) all do not recognize medical marijuana or recreational cannabis. These are the locations, ironically enough, that would benefit the most from medical marijuana, and yet progress still has not been made in that direction. On the contrary, traditional prescription opioid use only continues to rise.

On the other hand, the bottom 10 states for the number of opioid prescriptions, includes 8 medical marijuana or recreational cannabis states:

  • Vermont
  • Alaska
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • California
  • Hawaii

With all this research showing that medical marijuana legalization is, in fact, decreasing the use of prescription opioids, these state-by-state results wouldn’t seem so out of the ordinary.

Final Thoughts on Today’s Opioid Situation:

As the world is becoming healthier and realizing just how powerful the green medicine really is, it’s uplifting to see such positive research pointing in a direction that could suggest further medical marijuana or even recreational cannabis legalization. We hope that this trend will continue to rise in a beneficial direction, as more and more individuals choose a natural alternative to dealing with their chronic pain.

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