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Medical Marijuana May Cut Painkiller ODs
States with new laws see drop in opioid deaths
By Shelley Hazen, Newser User
Posted Aug 27, 2014 5:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – The solution to America's addiction to painkillers may be … more drugs? A new study found a drop in painkiller overdose deaths in 13 states that allowed medical marijuana, CNN reports. That's because a patient prescribed marijuana will either stop taking opioids or take less of them, researchers theorize. From 1999 to 2010, researchers found that in the year following passage of a medical marijuana law, states saw a 20% decrease in opiate overdose deaths compared to states without one; that grew to 33% over the following six years, the Los Angeles Times reports. Abuse experts say marijuana may stem "runaway rates" of opioid overdose, which have tripled since 1991 in the US and are now responsible for 46 deaths per day, adds Newsweek.

The study's conclusion starts with two facts: It's "basically impossible" to die from a pot overdose, and the plant is less toxic than opiates, says the study's co-author. It can provide relief for many diseases—cancer, MS, HIV, glaucoma, chronic pain—and enhances painkilling drugs so less is needed. But the study isn’t without its critics. A drug policy expert tells CNN the study didn't consider whether methadone programs and law enforcement interventions helped decrease overdoses, and another says medical marijuana can't be a contributing factor because doctors don't widely prescribe it. Researchers say more study is needed—into pot's chemical composition, its effects on pain relief, and patient use. (Another study suggests that couples who toke together have less marital trouble.)

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Showing 3 of 44 comments
davidbecker2
Aug 28, 2014 1:39 PM CDT
States should make medical marijuana for all conditions that it can be beneficial for. This will serve as a countermeasure to the poisonous enthusiasm for opioids that is promoted by Congress and pain specialists. Currently the National Pain Strategy us being developed by pain specialists at IPRCC and is backed by Congress- the same pain specialists who promoted opioids are creating this national pain plan. Evidence is clear, that pain specialists have been well paid for promoting opioids- and likewise the evidence is clear that opuioids for noncancer pain lack long-term efficacy. So the pain specialists have proven themselves to be unscientific and inhumance in promoting opioids, They should have and could have been promtoing intelligent use of all available treatments including marijuana or working to develop truly new treatments for pain. Moral and mental laziness and greed is behind the opioid economy. If the public calls for real change then we may have better pain care.
Robert
Aug 28, 2014 11:53 AM CDT
Where's the "duh" button?
BCS
Aug 27, 2014 11:35 PM CDT
I does enhance pain killers, but alone cannabis is useless for pain.