Trib editorial: Medical marijuana vs. opioids
States’ legalization of marijuana, for recreational use or palliative care, has corresponded with a slight, although notable, reduction in opioid prescriptions, according to two new studies. In which case there’s reason to believe that the supposed devil that’s not known — primarily because of the federal government’s restrictions on medical marijuana research — is a better alternative to the known opioid demon, which is killing people.
Two studies in the American Medical Association’s peer-reviewed Journal of Internal Medicine show a drop in opioid prescriptions in states with medical and/or recreational marijuana laws. One study between 2011 and 2016 — when Medicaid was expanded under ObamaCare — showed that medical marijuana cut opioid use by nearly 40 prescriptions per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees.
Another study, focusing on Medicare Part D enrollees, found states with medical marijuana dispensaries reduced the number of opioid prescriptions for people over 65.
Of course more research is warranted. But the findings suggest that medical marijuana can, at least in some circumstances, replace highly addictive opioids for pain relief.
And it’s doubtful anyone ever died from a marijuana overdose, if that’s even possible.