Two studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that medical cannabis reduces opioid prescriptions in states with medical cannabis programs. The researchers studied data from Medicare, which mostly covers people over the age of 65.
One of the studies looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D between 2010 and 2015, which showed that states with active dispensaries saw 3.742 million fewer daily doses of opiates filled.
The other looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid between 2011 and 2016 which showed that medical marijuana laws and adult-use marijuana laws were associated with lower opioid prescribing rates, ranging between 5-7% lower.
David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the Medicare study said, “This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications.”
“We do know that cannabis much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency,” he added.
The findings come at a time when many New Jersey town councils and county freeholders have come out against cannabis, even including medical dispensaries in some instances, claiming that bringing adult-use or medical use of cannabis will worsen the opioid crisis facing our communities.
In 2016, over 40,000 people died from opioid-related drug overdoses. More people have died from opioids than the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, zero deaths have ever been attributed directly to cannabis use.
This data also supports the idea that people over the age of 65 are a rapidly growing segment in the emerging legal cannabis industry.
Mark Sanders, store owner of ScyFli Smoke Shop in Mt. Laurel says, “I notice a huge increase in people around age 60 and over coming into the store seeking information about how to use their medical cannabis through smoking or vaping. I have definitely noticed it is one of my fastest growing customer profiles.”
Despite town councils actively taking action against cannabis, many New Jersey residents support legalization for responsible, adult-use according to a recent survey conducted by Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute.
Governor Murphy has made legalizing cannabis a cornerstone to his campaign and remains on track according to recent statements and also his recent budget address. He already expanded the medical program. While detractors offered a decriminalization bill, the senate leadership supports full legalization.
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