Two separate peer-reviewed studies in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found significant drops in opioid prescribing in US states that had relaxed their cannabis laws.
Both studies appear to offer insights into possible ways to solve a crisis that saw 17,087 people die from prescription opioid overdoes in the US in 2016.
The crisis has its origins in soaring prescription rates after a new generation of opioids were marketed in the 1980s and 1990s with inaccurate claims that they could alleviate chronic pain with minimal risk of addiction.
The new research was accompanied by an opinion piece in JAMA Internal Medicine which said both studies produced “results suggesting that cannabis legalisation may play a beneficial role in the opioid crisis”.
In the first study, researchers at the University of Georgia, Athens, looked at Medicare Part D prescriptions for people over the age of 65 between 2010 and 2015.
It found that prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average