Prescription drug overdose is a huge problem in the United States. In 2015, more than 33,000 people were killed by opioids alone (this includes street heroin and prescription pain killers). It kills more people than gun violence and car accidents do. And it's not a secret how patients are still prescribed with various amounts of pain killers. Now, this problem is still creeping in our society today and the epidemic of opioid use seems to be as unsolvable as our plastic use.
But who would have thought a plant might be what we need to fight this?
Researchers from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque have found out that if you live in a place where there is access to legal cannabis; it may reduce use of prescription drugs. The study’s roots came from inputs of Dr. Anthony Reeve, one of the first doctors to prescribe cannabis for New Mexico patients. He observed that a lot of his patient reported that enrolling in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program not only has decreased their use of pain meds but used other types of prescription drugs lesser and lesser as well.
The present study utilized 125 patients diagnosed with chronic pain, 83 of which were enrolled in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program or MCP and the remaining 42 aren’t enrolled in the program. They observed the patients over a 24-month period. In the last 6 months of the observation period, the researchers found that 28 percent of the cannabis program enrolees and 2 percent of the non-enrolled patients have stopped using all prescription drugs.
With this data, the researchers concluded that places where you can buy weed legally may reduce the use of different prescription medication. “No one has ever died from smoking too much cannabis,” said Jacob Vigil, one of the lead authors of the study. “Therefore, the relative safety and efficacy of using cannabis in comparison to that of the other scheduled medications should be taken by the health providers and legislators, and may very well to have been considered by the patients in our study.”
Currently, the researchers are seeing how benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium, opioids like morphine, and medical cannabis affect older patients and how they use them.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!