After Marijuana Legalization Did Opioid Overdoses Go Up, Keep the Identical, or Go Down?

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What occurred in states after medical marijuana legal guidelines have been handed? Did opioid overdoses go up, keep the identical, or go down?

Thousands and thousands of individuals in america have been diagnosed with an opioid use dysfunction, and greater than 80 People die every day from opioid overdose. The place is that this coming from? Most “new heroin customers began out misusing opioid prescription painkillers.” That is essential as a result of greater than 200 million opioid painkiller prescriptions are nonetheless written yearly. Did you catch that quantity? 2 hundred million prescriptions yearly, “a quantity intently approximating your complete grownup inhabitants in america.” That’s unimaginable.

“‘Once you see one thing just like the opioid habit disaster blossoming in so many states round this nation, the very last thing we needs to be doing is encouraging folks’ to smoke hashish, [White House Spokesperson Sean] Spicer advised reporters.” However, if opioid habit begins with folks taking prescription ache capsules, perhaps hashish would reduce the issue by providing a substitute painkiller. Alternatively, perhaps hashish would act like a “gateway” drug or “stepping stone” to more durable medication, doubtlessly making the opioid epidemic worse, as I talk about in my video Marijuana Legalization and the Opioid Epidemic.

Nicely, first, does hashish work? “Is it a very efficient drug for ache that’s arbitrarily stigmatized by many and criminalized by the federal authorities? Or is it with none medical utility, its advocates hiding behind a display of misplaced (or intentionally deceptive) compassion for the in poor health?” The official place of the American Medical Affiliation is that marijuana “has no scientifically confirmed, at the moment accepted medical use for stopping or treating any illness,” however what does the science say?

“Regardless of the widespread use of opioids, 50% – 80% of superior most cancers sufferers die with unmet pain-relief wants.” So, including hashish could assist. Certainly, double-blind, placebo-controlled medical trials have found that hashish compounds do produce ache aid, “equal to reasonable doses of codeine,” an opioid used to deal with gentle to reasonable ache, however in the event you’re dying from most cancers, don’t you need the good things? Why not simply crank up the morphine? 

If you happen to needed, you possibly can put somebody in coma and erase all their ache, however there’s a really actual downside with such excessive doses of opiates: Right here you’re, on the finish of life, surrounded by family members, however you’re so doped up you possibly can’t even say goodbye. That is the place hashish could assist. It might permit sufferers to drop down the opiate dose a bit with out compromising ache management.

That’s what many report, anyway. If you happen to take a look at New England, for instance, which could be considered floor zero for the opioid epidemic, in only one yr, “there have been sufficient opioids allotted from Maine pharmacies in 2014 to provide each particular person within the state with a 16-day provide.” What are they doing up there?

Among the many New Englanders surveyed who have been on opioids, nevertheless, most claimed “they decreased their [opioid] use since they began MC,” medical hashish. Some additionally decreased their use of antidepressants, alcohol, anti-anxiety medicines, migraine meds, and sleeping capsules. Forty % mentioned they have been capable of scale back their opioid use “quite a bit,” as you possibly can see at 3:16 in my video.

Hashish use could even reduce the usage of crack cocaine. It might appear unusual to present medication to drug addicts, but when folks even make a partial change from extra to much less dangerous medication, general hurt could also be decreased. So, what happened after medical marijuana legal guidelines have been handed? Did opioid overdoses go up, keep the identical, or go down? 

They went down. 

“Medical hashish legal guidelines are related to considerably decrease state-level opioid overdose mortality charges,” a couple of 25 % decrease price of overdose deaths. “The putting implication is that medical marijuana legal guidelines…could represent a promising strategy for stemming” the opioid overdose epidemic. “If true, this discovering upsets the applecart of standard knowledge relating to the general public well being implications of marijuana legalization and medicinal usefulness.” On the one hand, we’ve the AMA saying hashish isn’t medically useful, however, alternatively, if persons are getting sufficient profit utilizing it to allow them to reduce down on their prescriptions, then clearly one thing is happening. 

What about different prescribed drugs? As you possibly can see at 4:37 in my video, as soon as medical marijuana legal guidelines have been passed, fewer folks have been filling prescriptions—and never solely fewer prescriptions for painkillers, however fewer prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, anti-nausea medication, antipsychotics, anti-seizure medication, and sleeping capsules. If all states adopted medical marijuana legal guidelines, that might save round half a billion {dollars} a yr. However, the half-billion {dollars} taxpayers would save, is the half-billion bucks drug firms would lose, so it’s no surprise Huge Pharma is freaking out. Why do you suppose pharmaceutical companies, together with the makers of OxyContin and Vicodin, have been main sponsors of the marijuana prohibition foyer, trying to cease legalization? “Different main sponsors of marijuana prohibition have been the beer business, police unions, and the non-public jail business.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Greater than 200 million opioid painkiller prescriptions are written yearly regardless of the analysis of thousands and thousands in america with an opioid use dysfunction and greater than 80 People dying day by day from opioid overdose.
  • Would possibly hashish act as a gateway to more durable medication, like opioids, or may it scale back opioid habit by providing a substitute painkiller to prescription capsules?
  • The American Medical Affiliation’s official place is that marijuana “has no scientifically confirmed, at the moment accepted medical use for stopping or treating any illness,” however research have discovered that hashish compounds produce ache aid “equal to reasonable doses of codeine,” an opioid used to deal with gentle to reasonable ache.
  • On the finish of life, hashish could permit sufferers to cut back opiate doses with out compromising ache aid such that they is probably not in such a drug-induced stupor that they can not say goodbye.
  • Most New Englanders taking opioids claimed they decreased their opioid use after beginning medical hashish, and a few additionally decreased use of alcohol, antidepressants, sleeping capsules, and anti-anxiety and migraine medicines. Hashish may scale back use of crack cocaine.
  • After medical marijuana legal guidelines have been handed, opioid overdoses went down, a couple of 25 % decrease price of opioid overdose deaths, and fewer folks have been filling prescriptions—not just for painkillers, but additionally for anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, anti-nausea medication, antipsychotics, anti-seizure medication, and sleeping capsules.
  • About half a billion {dollars} could be saved yearly if medical marijuana legal guidelines have been adopted throughout america, however the half-billion taxpayers would save is the half-billion drug firms would lose.

I’ve an entire treasure chest of hashish movies, which you’ll be able to see on-line or in a digital DVD. 

Take a look at:

In well being,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you happen to haven’t but, you possibly can subscribe to my free movies here and watch my stay shows:

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