Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers?
It all started approximately 15 years ago, through a for-profit campaign, promoted by pharmacists to increase prescriptions for opioids against pain, which increased the price of pain relievers and thus increased consumption.
Declared addiction to narcotic painkillers and heroin by the US government as an “epidemic” in 2019, we will show below, the consequences of this increase in consumption, its misuse and the possibility of reducing this epidemic with the help of medical marijuana.
Narcotic pain relievers are used to combat severe pain that is not relieved by other types of pain relievers.
The consumption of these drugs linked to the following side effects:
- Constipation, nausea, or vomiting
- Withdrawal symptoms, addiction
Aside from the side effects of using these, if narcotics are misused, it can be fatal.
“Although pain relievers can ease pain, misuse and abuse of medications can lead to tragic consequences, such as addiction, overdose, and death.”
This was stated by the Purdue laboratory, manufacturer of OxyContin (a brand of an opiate pain reliever, whose active ingredient is Oxycodone).
Consequences of Addiction in Numbers
According to data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), a chilling 46 people die daily in the US from an overdose of prescription painkillers, outnumbering the death toll from heroin overdoses.
25% Decrease in Overdose Deaths Thanks to Cannabis Legalization
A study conducted in 2014 by the “JAMA Internal Medicine”, determines the association between the approval of state law of medicinal marijuana and mortality from overdoses of opioid analgesics.
As a result of the study, it was concluded that in the states where medical marijuana is legalized, the annual opioid overdose death rate decreased by 24.8%, compared to the rest of the states. Based on the results obtained in the study, there is talk of a possible relationship between the decrease in deaths from the use of narcotic pain relievers and the use of cannabis. We ask ourselves the following question:
Can Medical Marijuana Be a Substitute for Pain Relievers?
According to a study by Ian D. Meng and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, the possibility arises that cannabis may become a more effective pain reliever than morphine since its side effects are less unpleasant.
On the other hand, in 2016 another study came to light, in which it was showed that 44% of the 176 participants (all of them opioid users) in follow-up, were able to stop consuming opioids, seven months after starting to be treated with medical marijuana.
“The results suggest the long-term benefit of cannabis treatment in this group of patients.” According to the study.
It cannot be accurately stated that medical marijuana is a substitute for pain relievers, but Cannabidiol (CBD), known as the main non-psychotropic component of marijuana, does have some medicinal benefits.