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Two New Studies Find Cannabis Reduces Opioid Prescriptions

Published: April 3, 2018
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Source: Leafly | AP

Can legalizing cannabis fight the problem of opioid addiction and fatal overdoses? Two new studies in the debate suggest it may.

Medical marijuana legalization led to a 6% drop in opioid prescriptions to Medicaid patients. Adult-use legalization led to an additional 6% decrease.

Cannabis can relieve chronic pain in adults, so advocates for liberalizing marijuana laws have proposed it as a lower-risk alternative to opioids. But some research suggests cannabis may encourage opioid use, and so might make the epidemic worse.

The new studies don’t directly assess the effect of legalizing marijuana on opioid addiction and overdose deaths. Instead, they find evidence that legalization may reduce the prescribing of opioids. Over-prescribing is considered a key factor in the opioid epidemic.

Both studies were released Monday by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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