Its been a few years since the state of Colorado legalized recreational marijuana since then the number of opioid prescriptions for pain decreased dramatically compared two to other states where access to cannabis is still considered illegal.
According to a new study, Researchers at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and the University of New England were interested in analyzing how the connection between legal access to medical cannabis and lower use of opioids, less is known about how more extensive adult-use laws affect the prescribing rates of pharmaceuticals used for pain.
The team chooses to compare, Colorado with Maryland and Utah because they were the first three states to legalize some marijuana jurisdiction fully but in different ways. For example, Maryland even though they have similar demographics when it comes to terms of population size, homeownership, education level, and uninsured rates, whereas Utah was the most geographically same state with comparable Body Mass Index and median household income.
“Colorado had a larger decrease in opioid distribution after 2012 than Utah or Maryland. Therefore, marijuana could be considered as an alternative treatment for chronic pain and reducing the use of opioids,” according to the study’s findings, which were pre-published on bioRxiv earlier this month. “There has been a significant decrease in the prescription opioid distribution after the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.”
The study showed that Maryland had the highest amount of total pharmaceuticals distributed during the period. The weight of all 11 opioids peaked at 12,167 kg MME; however, that amount peaked to twice the weight in Colorado and Utah, which peaked at 5,029 kg MME in 2012 and 3,429 kilograms in 2015, respectively. In conclusion, the two drugs distributed the most each of the three states were oxycodone and methadone.
“Colorado and Maryland experienced an overall decrease in opioid distribution, but Colorado’s decrease was larger,” the study highlighted. “While the nation as a whole was experiencing a decrease in opioid distribution, it was promising that Colorado’s greater decrease considers the potential impact of recreational marijuana.”
Although it is unclear why Colorado experienced such a drop in prescriptions for pain medication, yet many experts find it hard to ignore that Colorado legalized marijuana for adult use in 2012.
“If there is an initial reduction in opioid distributions in states with recreational marijuana laws, it is conceivable that opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose deaths could also fall,” the team concluded. “Therefore, it may be time to reconsider the practice of automatically discharging patients from pain treatment centers for positive marijuana screens, considering this use might reduce their overall opioid use.”
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