Medical marijuana laws could be a boon to those battling the opioid epidemic, according to researchers who have identified a link between increased access to medical marijuana and a reduction in opioid prescriptions.
The studies suggest medical marijuana laws (MMLs) have helped save and could continue to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars now being lost to opioid addiction.
There is a downside: The promise of MMLs in reducing opioid use shows up thus far in urban areas, but not in rural America.
The marijuana laws have an effect similar to when any replacement for a drug is introduced, say researchers. In this case, marijuana appears to be a substitute for opioids as a pain medication in many cases.
This week the JAMA’s Journal of Internal Medicine published two studies that conclude that medical marijuana (or medical cannabis) laws have the potential to reduce opioid prescriptions. One study looked at Medicare Part D patient data and the other at Medicaid enrollee data.
The Medicare study (Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid