New Studies Show That Access To Cannabis Reduces Opioid Use
It's an argument that has been on the agenda for, well, what seems like forever. The opioid crisis has the United States in its grips and countless Americans are suffering. But new studies have emerged that could provide significant data to prove that access to legal cannabis does, in fact, reduce opioid use.
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The most recent comes from data published this week by the Minnesota Health Department. Cannabis is medically available in Minnesota. The data showed of all the patients who had been known to be taking opioids, 63 percent "were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after six months."
Whilst this data is extremely promising, it isn't exactly new. Other studies have been done in recent months and years that prove similar results and cannabis advocates have been working hard to spread the same message that cannabis can reduce and, in some cases, eliminate opioid use.
Patient data from New Mexico and two just-published clinical trials from Israel seem to indicate that access to medical marijuana significantly reduces opioid use. According to the New Mexico date, patients enrolled in a medical marijuana program "were more likely either to reduce daily opioid prescription dosages between the beginning and end of the sample period (83.8 percent versus 44.8 percent) or to cease filling opioid prescriptions altogether (40.5 percent versus 3.4 percent)."
One of the studies from Israel, where medical marijuana is legally allowed, showed that amongst the elderly, over 18 percent of the study's participants "stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose" over a six-month period.
The second trial from Israel, which looked at over 1,200 cancer patients, reported similar results with nearly half of the study group drastically reducing their opioid use or eliminating it altogether.
Opioids have traditionally been prescribed to treat a number of conditions where patients experience intense or chronic pain. However, the addiction risk for these medications is dangerously high and over time, patients can build up a tolerance to opioids, leading many to seek stronger drugs.
Cannabis offers a non-dangerous alternative to these drugs. Whilst overdose deaths related to opioid use continue to soar, there has not been a reported overdose from cannabis. In fact, you'd have to ingest around fifteen hundred pounds of marijuana in fifteen minutes for it to have a lethal effect on you, an impossible feat.
With scientific data mounting against the notion that cannabis has no medical benefits, an increasing number of states are implementing medical marijuana programs to combat the opioid crisis.