Researchers Say Access To Medical Marijuana Might Help Cut Down On Opioid Use – Forbes

States that have medical marijuanas programs have reportedly started to see a drop in the number of people requesting opioid prescriptions.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons this month suggests that the availability of medical marijuana has been responsible for an almost 20% drop in the number of opioids prescriptions written. 

In the study, researchers note that orthopedic surgeons are among the highest prescribers of opioids. Researchers suggest that it’s important for surgeons to expose alternatives to prescribing opioids including considering cannabis when medical facilities are available.

Cannabis has long been used as a pain reliever and has been known in recent years especially for its usefulness for cancer and seizure patients. Since cannabis is not available around the country, the full potential impact of the drug isn’t well know.

“Multiple large nationwide database studies have shown that states with the legalization of medical marijuana have seen reductions in the opioid prescription rates and opioid-related mortality rates,” reads the study. “The authors of these studies have theorized that in states where medical cannabis is more available, patients are likely to substitute cannabis for opioids in their pain management.”

All that said, the study didn’t actually look at who was taking opioids and if they were replacing those with cannabis in some cases. So, while the results show that there is less opioid use in areas where medical cannabis is available, the study doesn’t actually got as far as confirming that patients are choosing to use cannabis instead of opioids.

“We could not make any conclusions about any direct effect of substitution of opioids for cannabis by patients on prescription trends.” the study reads. “As such, our study does not draw conclusions of direct causation, but reports observed associations over time using a nationwide cohort database and multivariable regression analysis.”

It does; however, call on opthopaedic surgeon to consider making the change.

“Orthopaedic surgeons are among the highest prescribers of opioids, highlighting the importance of providing nonopioid analgesic alternatives in efforts to reduce opioid use in the patient cohort,” the study says. “This study is the first to examine the association between implementation of state cannabis laws and prescribing patterns for opioids by orthopaedic surgeons in Medicare Part D patients.”

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilyprice/2020/05/30/researchers–say-access-to-medical-marijuana-might-help-cut-down-on-opioid-use/

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