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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: 2) by fliptop on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:15PM (10 children)

    by fliptop (1666) on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:15PM (#662239) Journal

    Last November, the second time my friend's son got out of rehab, he swore up-and-down he was done w/ drugs. But he still smoked b/c, as he told me, "it's just pot."

    In February she buried him after he overdosed again. He was twenty-three years old. Heroin addiction is a horrible, all-consuming beast.

    --
    Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:26PM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:26PM (#662244)

    You seem to anecdotally be linking pot smoking with heroin relapse. From everything I've seen I would say smoking pot would actually lessen the chance of a relapse, similar to how smokers need chewing gum or SOMETHING to replace the habit.

    I'm sorry your friend had to go through that, yet another sign of the times where people seek escapism because reality seems too bleak. Legalizing all the drugs would vastly reduce the chance of overdosing with reliable products and with less stigma people may be more willing to seek help.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:44PM (8 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:44PM (#662254) Journal

      You seem to anecdotally be linking pot smoking with heroin relapse.

      I also wondered about that, but I will give fliptop the benefit of the doubt. I think fliptop just meant to say that cannabis is considered such a "light" drug that people don't even think of it in the same way as heroin et al. Despite it being on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. And then fliptop concluded the story.

      If you are using opioids recreationally, then cannabis is probably not an effective substitute. So rather than a gateway drug, the victim just returning to using the drug they actually wanted. If you are using opioids for to kill pain, then cannabis could be an effective substitute, although it would better to avoid the opioids from the start. And if cannabis is legal in every state or federally, and people don't lose their jobs over it, then maybe we'll have a good way to stop or slow down the crisis, since many people are getting introduced to heroin through their legitimate opioid prescriptions (the real gateway).

      Legalizing all the drugs would vastly reduce the chance of overdosing with reliable products and with less stigma people may be more willing to seek help.

      Needle exchanges and supervised injection sites could be a huge help, but the latter is political suicide in the U.S.

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      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:46PM (1 child)

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday April 03 2018, @11:46PM (#662255) Journal

        So rather than a gateway drug, the victim WAS just returning to using the drug they actually wanted. If you are using opioids TO kill pain, then cannabis could be an effective substitute, although it would BE better to avoid the opioids from the start.

        TooHIGH 2 post?

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        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:36AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:36AM (#662286)

          Umm, you tell us?

      • (Score: 2) by NewNic on Wednesday April 04 2018, @12:07AM (2 children)

        by NewNic (6420) on Wednesday April 04 2018, @12:07AM (#662263) Journal

        Despite it being on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

        Not sure what point you are trying to make there, but it sounds awfully like a circular argument that "Cannabis is illegal because it is on a list that makes it illegal", not because of any real harm.

        Historically, Cannabis is illegal because of racism.

        --
        lib·er·tar·i·an·ism ˌlibərˈterēənizəm/ noun: Magical thinking that useful idiots mistake for serious political theory
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday April 04 2018, @12:52AM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday April 04 2018, @12:52AM (#662271) Journal

          Point is that it is on Schedule I, deemed the worst of the worst by our government, but kids (and adults) barely even think of it as a drug. It's all a big joke.

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          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NewNic on Wednesday April 04 2018, @04:38AM

            by NewNic (6420) on Wednesday April 04 2018, @04:38AM (#662343) Journal

            I don't agree that it is a joke.

            What its Schedule 1 listing means is that this (and prior) governments have no regard for facts.

            Facts show that it has valuable medical properties. Facts show that it is not addictive. Facts show that legalizing it would promote one of this administration's stated goals: reducing opioid-related deaths and other consequences of opioid abuse.

            Facts show that it should be regulated more like alcohol.

            But, legalizing cannabis would give a win to the very states that fund the nation, but are hated by Trump, so its not going to happen any time soon. Another failure by Obama!

            --
            lib·er·tar·i·an·ism ˌlibərˈterēənizəm/ noun: Magical thinking that useful idiots mistake for serious political theory
      • (Score: 5, Informative) by NotSanguine on Wednesday April 04 2018, @12:20AM (1 child)

        If you are using opioids for to kill pain, then cannabis could be an effective substitute, although it would better to avoid the opioids from the start.

        I had spine surgery not too long ago and made sure I had plenty of cannabis on hand, as I wanted to limit the amount of opiods I took for pain.

        Most of my pain was related to the incision and tissue damage from rooting around in my spine. For the first couple of days after surgery, cannabis just didn't cut it for pain relief.

        Cannabis took the edge off, but stronger (in this case oxycodone) drugs were needed to allow me to sleep. I took full doses of oxycodone every four hours for almost three days and it helped quite a bit, allowing me to sleep and let the incision begin to heal. I was also high off my ass that whole time.

        I cut the dose in 1/2 after three days and started stretching out the time between doses. I didn't feel really high from the oxycodone then and started using cannabis as well, which didn't get rid of the pain, but made it so I didn't really care about it.

        After five days or so, I tried stopping the opiods altogether, but the pain from my still-healing incision made it difficult to sleep. As such, I took a 1/2 dose before bed and another one when I woke up. That worked well to allow me to sleep and the cannabis allowed me to deal pretty easily with any pain I had when I was awake.

        Once the oxycodone was gone (after nine days), I was no longer in much pain and had little desire for more oxycodone.

        For the type of treatment (recovery from surgery), the oxycodone was absolutely necessary and cannabis was insufficient. That's anecdotal (obviously), but is, in my mind (even before this surgery), an appropriate use for opioids. Chronic pain on the other hand, was always a bad use case for them.

        And as I understand it, the primary issue with dependence/addiction that stems from opioid use is when they are prescribed on an ongoing basis for chronic pain.

        Depending on the level of pain, cannabis can absolutely help such folks. The idea that long-term use of opioids not causing dependence is ridiculous on its face, and it makes you wonder how big pharma convinced so many doctors that dependence/addiction shouldn't be the expected outcome.

        Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is less than useless in my experience, although ibuprofen (Advil) has been very useful for me. Interestingly, naproxen sofium (Aleve) does absolutely nothing for me, even at prescription doses.

        Everyone is different and will have different reactions to the use of various drugs, but thinking that long-term use of opioids, to treat chronic pain, won't cause dependence/addiction and its associated problems is, at best naive and, at worst, an attempt to create a permanent market for such pain medications.

        None of that is new or even particularly profound. That so many who should have known better just went along has been disastrous. More's the pity.

        --
        No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:19AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @01:19AM (#662281)

          mix acetaminophen ibuprofen and caffeine that stack works better than the sum of it component

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @02:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04 2018, @02:59AM (#662313)

        Naah, fliptop has a good point. We need to kill those motherfucking drug users before they kill themselves. Once a drug user, always a drug user. Kill them all!!!eleven!1!

        (grin)