Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Access To Medical Marijuana May Be Helping Reduce Opioid Abuse

Access To Medical Marijuana May Be Helping Reduce Opioid Abuse

As for marijuana being used to treat pain, Eberlein isn't buying it.

"It's frankly not surprising that they show there's less opioids being prescribed when there is an alternative of medical marijuana being provided and that goes along with other studies that are similar showing things like opioid deaths are reduced when marijuana's available as an alternative", said LSU Health Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Ross DeLeonardo. Opiate prescriptions also dropped by 6.9 percent in states that allow adults to grow their own plants.

From 2010 to 2015 there were 23.08 million daily doses of any opioid dispensed per year in the average state under Medicare Part D. Multiple regression analysis results found that patients filled fewer daily doses of any opioid in states with [medical cannabis laws, MCL].

While only six percent of people ages 50 to 80 have used medical marijuana, the National Poll on Healthy Aging has found that the majority of people in that age group are open to trying it.

Dr. Frank Lucido meets with his patient, Carla Newbre of Oakland, in his office in Berkeley.

By contrast, Dr. Bertha Madras - former deputy director for the White House's Drug Czar office - warned of a lack of enough research on cannabis, and said enthusiasm for medical cannabis could be risky.

Critics note that the federal government blocks precisely such research.

The University of Georgia study was published on Monday. "Some suggesting that medical marijuana may assist in reducing opioid use or misuse or overdoses; and other studies suggesting that marijuana use may actually increase the use of opioids" said Woolery.

The second team of researchers from the University of Kentucky looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid between 2011 and 2016, and found that opioid prescriptions decreased by 5.88% in states that allowed the use of medicinal or recreational marijuana.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been perhaps the most vocal opponent of marijuana legalization in the Trump Administration, and - with little evidence - has argued that marijuana may even be responsible for the opioid epidemic in the United States, counter to the results of these studies.

"I think it would be important for medical cannabis, something that is studied further".

"Like any drug in our FDA-approved pharmacopeia, it can be misused".

Woolery says while the findings from this study are positive, he advises caution.

Madras also sounded skepticism saying: "At this point we need to promote high quality, rigorous research and move away from the misinformation flooding the media with reports of miracle cures and non-addictive properties and ideal treatments to manage chronic pain".

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