New Study Finds Legal Cannabis Equals Fewer Pharmaceuticals

Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations,” according to the results of a new study.

Regardless of what some officials in the Trump administration believe, Americans have a major problem with pharmaceutical narcotics, and that’s something cannabis can help mitigate, according to the conclusion of a recent University of New Mexico study.

From 2014 to 2015, the following states witnessed a double-digit increase in their overdose mortality rates, thanks primarily to pharmaceutical narcotics: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia.

America's drug overdose rate skyrockets between 2014 and 2015

Drug overdose death data. Source: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.

University of New Mexico: Cannabis Research

For the study published by The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, researchers from the University of New Mexico examined the pharmaceutical habits of 125 chronic pain patients. Of the 125 patients, 83 were enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program and 42 were not. A “pragmatic historical cohort study,” scientists reported medical marijuana patients, on average, notably reduced their overall intake of pharmaceutical drugs.

Researchers at the University of New Mexico found that 28 medical marijuana patients (34%) and one comparison group patient (2%) stopped the use of all prescribed medications by the final six months of the research. The noted variables of this New Mexico study include patient baseline levels and the “pre-and post-enrollment trends in the number of drug prescriptions, distinct drug classes, dates prescription drugs were filled, and prescribing providers.”

Cannabis vs. Pharmaceutical Findings:

“Twenty-eight MCP (Medical Cannabis Program) patients (34%) and 1 comparison group patient (2%) ceased the use of all scheduled prescription medications by the last 6 months of the observation period. Age- and sex-adjusted regressions show that, although no statistically significant differences existed in pre-enrollment levels and trends, the post-enrollment trend among MCP patients is statistically significantly negative for all 4 measures (decreases in counts of −0.02 to −0.04, P values between <.001 and .017), whereas the post-enrollment trend is 0 among the comparison group. Controlling for time-invariant patient characteristics suggested that MCP patients showed statistically significantly lower levels across all 4 measures by 10 months post enrollment.”

A great month for good marijuana research, this study coincides nicely with a University of Indiana study that reported nearly 47,500 American lives could be saved annually if medical marijuana was legalized nationally.

View the study’s full abstract.



 

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