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posted by fyngyrz on Tuesday April 03 2018, @08:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the let's-be-blunt-here dept.

Marijuana legalization could help offset opioid epidemic, studies find

Experts have proposed using medical marijuana to help Americans struggling with opioid addiction. Now, two studies suggest that there is merit to that strategy.

The studies, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine [open, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0266] [DX], compared opioid prescription patterns in states that have enacted medical cannabis laws with those that have not. One of the studies looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D between 2010 and 2015, while the other looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid between 2011 and 2016.

The researchers found that states that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year under Medicare Part D, compared with those states without medical cannabis laws. Opioid prescriptions under Medicaid also dropped by 5.88% in states with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws, according to the studies.

"This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications," said David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the Medicare study. "And for pain patients in particular, our work adds to the argument that cannabis can be effective."

Also at the Washington Post.

Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees (open, DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1007) (DX)

Previously:
Study: Legal Weed Far Better Than Drug War at Stopping Opioid Overdose Epidemic
Opioid Commission Drops the Ball, Demonizes Cannabis


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03 2018, @10:45PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03 2018, @10:45PM (#662225)

    Over the time period covered in the studies, the medical profession in the U.S. increasingly made getting a 'daily opioid dose' via prescription an arduous process. As every doctor feared having their license to practice seized by the DEA, each patient had to do things like sign contracts limiting at which pharmacy they could get prescriptions filled, take drug tests every few months to prove they were taking their prescription and not taking street drugs (at the patients' expense), and sometimes just having their prescriptions dropped completely and not given new ones.

    Of course people are increasingly going to stop jumping through those damn hoops, and go try weed! Especially where it's legal now. No insurance forms, no doctor visits past the first one to get the card/prescription, no one presuming you're a junkie. None of this has anything to do with whether opioids are better or worse than marijuana at actually controlling the pain.

    Why not study how many people in the non-legal states are, when they can no longer get an opioid prescription, just blow their brains out: https://medium.com/@ThomasKlineMD/suicides-associated-with-non-consented-opioid-pain-medication-reductions-356b4ef7e02a [medium.com]

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by takyon on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:22PM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:22PM (#662242) Journal

    Over the time period covered in the studies, the medical profession in the U.S. increasingly made getting a 'daily opioid dose' via prescription an arduous process. As every doctor feared having their license to practice seized by the DEA, each patient had to do things like sign contracts limiting at which pharmacy they could get prescriptions filled, take drug tests every few months to prove they were taking their prescription and not taking street drugs (at the patients' expense), and sometimes just having their prescriptions dropped completely and not given new ones.

    A friend of mine got an opioid prescription a couple of weeks before surgery earlier this year. I think it was oxycodone/Percocet. I called a few pharmacies for him and they all gave pretty evasive answers until one pharm tech admitted that they tell people who call that the drugs are not in stock because they fear getting robbed. He couldn't get the prescription filled at CVS, Walgreen's, etc. even after driving to several locations. He ended up giving up on it AFAIK and sticking with aspirin or acetaminophen, but you could imagine the desperation one would have if they had more severe pain.

    The CIA and U.S. military have sustained or tolerated [theguardian.com] Afghanistan's opium crop. And not all of it ends up in Europe. [latimes.com]

    None of this has anything to do with whether opioids are better or worse than marijuana at actually controlling the pain.

    You have stories like this:

    Opioids Don't Beat Other Medications For Chronic Pain [npr.org]

    "We found at the beginning of the study that patients who were enrolled really thought that opioids were far more effective than nonopioid medications," she says. But after about nine months, even with those expectations, the nonopioid group reported their pain was slightly less severe than the opioid group. At the end of the year, "there was really no difference between the groups in terms of pain interference with activities. And over time, the nonopioid group had less pain intensity and the opioid group had more side effects," such as constipation, fatigue and nausea, Krebs says.

    The study didn't explore why, but Krebs' theory is opioid tolerance. "Within a few weeks or months of taking an opioid on a daily basis, your body gets used to that level of opioid, and you need more and more to get the same level of effect," she says. Opioids also carry the risk of addiction and overdose. "This study adds the long-term evidence that shows that opioids really don't have any advantages in terms of pain relief that might outweigh the known harms that they cause," she adds.

    Maybe cannabis tolerance could also be an issue, but that should go away much more quickly if you stop, and you don't have a chance of overdosing either.

    Meanwhile, if you want to stick with opioids, that may mean turning to heroin... fentanyl.... carfentanil [wikipedia.org]...

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:14AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:14AM (#662279)

      cannabis tolerance takes a long time to build and it take a similar time to wear off