New studies show that marijuana can stop the opioid epidemic

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Three different studies show that marijuana reduces reliance on opioids

Opioid use has risen substantially over the past several years to fight pain. Unfortunately, the drug isn’t without risks and has been tied to brain and liver damage. It has also been determined that tolerance to the drug can be developed, resulting in an ever-increasing reliance on dependence. Fortunately, there is an alternative in marijuana and recent studies show that the natural plant is a much better alternative to the lab-manufactured chemical compound. They also show that marijuana is replacing opioids as the go-to pain reliever.

The Orthopedic Proceedings journal recently published a report on a study that was conducted with over 520 patients in 2012 and 2017. What the researchers discovered was that the “prevalence of preoperative cannabis use increased from nine percent to 15 percent while the prevalence of opioid use decreased from 24 percent to 17 percent.”

In another study, researchers analyzed over 1.3 billion opioid prescriptions between 2011 and 2018. The objective was to determine if there was any connection between opioid prescriptions and marijuana laws and the results are conclusive. In states were both medical and recreational marijuana is permitted, opioid use declined by 6.9%. In those that only permit medical marijuana, the figure was 6.1%.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 11.4 million individuals misused opioids last year. This was down slightly from the 11.8 million seen the year prior. At the same time, marijuana use increased. 26 million Americans were consuming marijuana in 2017, compared to 24 million in 2016.

The results, while not scientifically conclusive in linking marijuana use to a reduction in opioid dependence, provide a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence. This is good news, considering that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 115 Americans die each day due to opioid overdose. In contrast, the Drug Enforcement Agency indicates that no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose.