Studies: Medical marijuana combats opioid abuse

As Oklahomans gear up to vote on whether to legalize medical marijuana, two studies released this year show evidence that doing so would likely reduce the prevalence of opioid prescriptions.

On June 26, voters will decide State Question 788 on the state’s primary election ballot. If SQ 788 passes, Oklahoma will join 29 other states in allowing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

The ballot language would require the prescription of a physician, ensuring that the government will not interfere between the doctor-patient relationship.

Empirical data: Medical marijuana combats opioid abuse

As noted by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) in a recent commentary for the Journal Record, “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 115 Americans die each day from an opiate overdose, which is one American every 13 minutes. CDC data shows that 40% of all drug-related mortality cases resulted from opioid abuse.”

Clearly, Oklahoma is no exception to this national tragedy, as its ranks sixth in the nation for highest opioid-prescribing rates.

Several studies have suggested that a state’s legalization of medical marijuana decreases opioid prescriptions, while other recent analyses offer more intrinsic support for these claims. A 2014 paper published in the peer-reviewed JAMA Internal Medicine journal found that states with medical marijuana laws had nearly 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdoses.

Similarly, JAMA Internal Medicine recently published two other studies that were chronicled in an April article from Scientific American:

Two papers published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzing more than five years of Medicare Part D and Medicaid prescription data found that after states legalized weed, the number of opioid prescriptions and the daily dose of opioids went way down.

“In this time when we are so concerned—rightly so—about opiate misuse and abuse and the mortality that’s

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