By Pat Anson, Editor
The availability of medical marijuana has significantly reduced opioid prescribing for Medicaid and Medicare patients, according to two large studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
In one study, researchers at the University of Georgia looked at Medicare Part D prescription drug data from 2010 to 2015. They found that the number of daily doses prescribed for morphine (-14%), hydrocodone (-10.5%) and fentanyl (-8.5%) declined in states with medical marijuana laws. However, daily doses for oxycodone increased (+4.4%) in those same states.
The drop in opioid prescribing was most pronounced in states that have medical marijuana dispensaries, as opposed to those that only allow home cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes.
“We found that prescriptions for hydrocodone and morphine had statistically significant negative associations with medical cannabis access via dispensaries,” wrote lead author W. David Bradford, PhD, Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia.
“Combined with previously published studies suggesting cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid