Study: Medicare patients use fewer opioids in states with medical marijuana laws

Medicare Part D beneficiaries in states with legalized medical marijuana are prescribed significantly fewer opioids than beneficiaries in states without medical marijuana laws, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, researchers examined CMS data on opioid prescriptions compiled from 2010-15. Analysis revealed individual states dispensed an average of 23.1 million daily doses of opioids each year to Part D patients.

Medical marijuana laws were associated with a 2.1 million reduction in opioid daily doses for states. Specifically, researchers found states with active legalized marijuana dispensaries experienced a 14.4 percent reduction in the use of prescription opioids from 2010-15.

"Combined with previously published studies suggesting cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid mortality, these findings further strengthen arguments in favor of considering medical applications of cannabis as one tool in the policy arsenal that can be used to diminish the harm of prescription opioids," concluded the study's authors.

To read the full study, click here.

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