War on medical marijuana gets public health all wrong

While it’s true that yes, the US is in the midst of a “historic drug epidemic,” marijuana is not the drug that kills 91 Americans every single day. It is also not responsible for the quadrupling in overdose deaths in the US since 1999. In fact, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration… no deaths from marijuana overdose have ever been recorded.

Using this very real public health crisis to justify cracking down on medical marijuana isn’t just disingenuous, it’s irresponsible. Because marijuana, it turns out, is actually pretty great at managing chronic pain. In January, the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering conducted the most thorough review of marijuana research to date. Across numerous trials and experiments, the report found strong evidence that people treated for pain with marijuana were “more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms,” compared to a placebo. States that permit medical marijuana have fewer opioid overdose deaths. According to a 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, the 13 states that enacted medical cannabis laws before 2010 had a 25 percent lower average annual opioid overdose mortality rate. Painkiller prescriptions go way down after introducing medical marijuana laws. In a 2016 Health Affairs study, researchers found that doctors in states where medical MJ was permissible, prescribed (on average) 1,826 fewer painkiller doses for Medicare patients between 2010 and 2013. Chronic pain patients who use pot don’t need as many painkillers. A 2015 study in the Journal of Pain found that patients in Michigan who visited local dispensaries were 64 percent less likely to report opioid use, which suggests weed could actually substitute for some painkillers.

Original Article (Wired):
War on medical marijuana gets public health all wrong
Artwork Fair Use: shay sowden

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