According to news reports, states permitting sales of legal marijuana are noticing a decline in opioid abuse, confirming the commonly-held belief that the drug’s legalization is having a positive impact. The research goes some way to silencing the concerns of critics of medical marijuana programs that easy and open access to the plant will have negative ramifications for public health. The fact remains that the number of cases of hospitalization for opioid abuse in states with a marijuana program are almost 25% lower than in states still prohibiting the drug. Here, we consider the facts and how marijuana affects drug abuse in the United States.
Another statistic that shows the benefit of medical marijuana programs is that the states that have them receive around 13% fewer admissions from overdose patients to their emergency rooms. However, despite the positive statistics, there are no claims of a solution to what has become an opioid epidemic in recent years.
The fact that marijuana is shown to have pain relief properties of its own is a positive sign that the drug can be used in place of opiates for certain conditions and reduce dependency. There is also a clear mandate in the US to promote the health benefits of marijuana over opioids, particularly for patients suffering chronic pain.
Recent studies show that around 63% of pain patients prefer to use marijuana for relief due to it having significantly fewer side effects and being much less addictive than prescription drugs. This is a critical factor in the role of marijuana in reducing the number of opioid-related deaths which stood at a record 33,000 in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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