Nav: Home

Lower rates of opioid prescriptions in states that implemented medical cannabis use laws

June 11, 2019

GALVESTON, Texas - Using data from privately-insured adults, new findings from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston revealed that there is a lower level of opioids prescribed in states that have allowed the use of medical marijuana.

The findings care currently available in Preventive Medicine.

"We found that the overall prescription opioid use increased by age, which we expected," said senior author Mukaila Raji, UTMB professor and director, Division of Geriatrics Medicine. "But, when we looked at the results within different age groups, opioid prescription rates varied depending on the stringency of state cannabis laws. In particular, states that implemented medical cannabis laws had lower rates of opioid prescription in people aged 18 to 54."

Initially, opioids were seen as a way to ease pain and their use became widespread over time, with little attention paid to possible side effects or the risk of addiction. Over the past 25 years, prescriptions for opioids have nearly tripled and in 2017 there were 29,406 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. alone. The desire to reduce the use of opioids has given rise to a search for non-opioid alternatives for pain treatment.

"As more states enact laws legalizing medical use of cannabis, there is growing interest in cannabis as a potential agent to mitigate harmful effects associated with synthetic opioid use," said Raji.

"While this may suggest a public health benefit, it must be carefully examined across different groups of people to prevent unintended downsides of any new cannabis legislation," Raji said. "Earlier studies that analyzed data from Medicaid and Medicare enrollees suggest a relationship between cannabis laws and lower opioid use, but we're the first to explore whether this link is mirrored among commercially insured adults - which encompasses a wide range of ages and other demographics."

The researchers used de-identified data from Clinformatics Data Mart, a database of one of the nation's largest commercial health insurance providers that contains 87 percent of commercial enrollees. They calculated the number of people who had opioid prescriptions for one month and three months within a year and then separated the data into groups by level of legalization of cannabis laws and different age groups.
-end-
Other authors include UTMB's N. Ogechi Abara, Habeeb Salameh, Jordan Westra and Yong-Fang Kuo.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Related Cannabis Articles:

Vaping cannabis may expose users to carcinogenic compounds
New research shows that the agents commonly mixed with cannabis oil for vaping can also produce cancer-causing compounds when heated.
Recreational cannabis, used often, increases risk of gum disease
Recreational use of cannabis -- including marijuana, hashish, and hash oil -- increases the risk of gum disease, says a study by Columbia University dental researchers.
Cannabis reverses aging processes in the brain
Memory performance decreases with increasing age. Cannabis can reverse these ageing processes in the brain.
Did illicit cannabis use increase more in states with medical marijuana laws?
A study using data from three US national surveys indicates that illicit cannabis use and cannabis use disorders increased at a greater rate in states that passed medical marijuana laws than in other states, according to a new article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.
Risk of psychosis from cannabis use lower than originally thought, say scientists
Scientists at the University of York have shown that the risk of developing psychosis, such as hallucinations, from cannabis use is small compared to the number of total users.
Researchers identify genes that give cannabis its flavor
UBC scientists have scanned the genome of cannabis plants to find the genes responsible for giving various strains their lemony, skunky or earthy flavors, an important step for the budding legal cannabis industry.
Cannabis use in people with epilepsy revealed: Australian survey
The first Australian nationwide survey on the experiences and opinions of medicinal cannabis use in people with epilepsy has revealed that 14 per cent of people with epilepsy have used cannabis products as a way to manage seizures.
The Lancet Psychiatry: Experts ask: Can cannabis be made safer?
As cannabis laws become liberalised in many countries, experts writing in The Lancet Psychiatry argue that there is an urgent need to explore how cannabis use can be made safer.
Given the choice, patients will reach for cannabis over prescribed opioids
Chronic pain sufferers and those taking mental health meds would rather turn to cannabis instead of their prescribed opioid medication, according to new research by the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria.
Brainy teens may be less likely to smoke, but more likely to drink and use cannabis
Brainy teens may be less likely to smoke, but more likely to drink alcohol and use cannabis, than their less academically gifted peers, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Related Cannabis Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...