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Medical Marijuana Can Save Lives - Here's the Evidence

Medical Marijuana Can Save Lives - Here's the Evidence | Health questions | Scoop.it

This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions paused a discussion of the opioid epidemic to, once again, go after marijuana. He suggested that addictive pain medication wasn’t the only problem and that many heroin addicts start out “with marijuana and other drugs.”

 

There is a relationship between cannabis and opioids, but Mr. Sessions has it backward. Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug to opioid addiction; it’s a safer alternative to pain medicines. Mr. Sessions’s vow to crack down on marijuana will only make the opioid epidemic worse.

 

We know that 40 percent of all opiate overdose deaths involve a prescription opiate. So having legal access to cannabis as another option for pain relief may actually reduce consumption of opiates.

 

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but consider the evidence. To start, a large study assessed the effect of medical-marijuana laws on opiate-related deaths between 1999 and 2010 in all 50 states and reported a 25 percent decrease in opiate overdose mortality in states where medical marijuana was legal, compared with those where it wasn’t. The study found that in 2010, medical-marijuana laws resulted in an estimated 1,729 fewer deaths than expected.

 

Other epidemiologic studies found similar results. A study published last year examined opiate-related deaths in Colorado between 2000 and 2015. Researchers compared mortality rates before and after the state legalized recreational cannabis in 2014. For controls, they chose two nearby states: Nevada, which legalized only medical cannabis, and Utah, where all cannabis use is illegal. The study found a 6.5 percent drop in opiate-related deaths after recreational cannabis became legal in Colorado.

 

Likewise, other researchers examined the link between medical cannabis and opiate use in a group of patients with chronic pain in New Mexico, one of the states hardest hit by the opioid crisis. They reported that subjects who had access to medical cannabis were 17 times more likely to stop using opiates for pain compared with those not using cannabis.

 

Because these are all observational studies, they cannot prove a causal link between cannabis use and lower opiate-related mortality. Still, the consistent epidemiologic evidence is hard to ignore.

 

Why might cannabis work so well as an alternative to opioids? It does offer some mild pain relief. But more significant, both opiates and cannabis — like all recreational drugs — cause the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway. That signal conveys a powerful sense of pleasure and craving. Thus, cannabis might pre-empt some of the rewarding effects of opiates, decreasing the general desire to use them.

 

There is also intriguing preliminary evidence that cannabidiol, a major component of marijuana, can blunt craving in individuals with opioid dependence following a period of abstinence.

 

If cannabis were actually a dangerous gateway drug, as the attorney general suggested, it would be very easy to see in the data. We would find that medical-marijuana laws increased opiate drug use and overdose deaths, when in fact just the opposite has happened.

 

Author: Richard A. Friedman is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College

 

Further Reading:

“Jeff Sessions' Approach to Solving the Opioid Addiction Crisis” : http://sco.lt/5nhcAb“Is There a Role for Medical Cannabis in Combating the Opioid Epidemic?” : http://bit.ly/MintzPostX“Four Newtown Area Docs Are Approved to Prescribe Medical Marijuana” : http://sco.lt/5QxUEz
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Marvin Grinin's insight:
Doctors: Marijuana Can Save Lives
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Danny Bilow's comment, June 20, 12:39 PM
Michael, What an interesting read! I think the younger generation is starting to be more accepting as far as using marijuana for medicinal purposes. As we move forward I think Cannabis will become accepted more and more as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. This is especially important to get people off of opiates and use cannabis as a treatment for pain.
Radovan Andrejko's comment, September 6, 1:36 PM
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Sandra Vanisa Hongku's curator insight, September 17, 3:33 PM
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Rescooped by Marvin Grinin from Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Scoop.it!

Medical Marijuana Can Save Lives - Here's the Evidence

Medical Marijuana Can Save Lives - Here's the Evidence | Health questions | Scoop.it

This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions paused a discussion of the opioid epidemic to, once again, go after marijuana. He suggested that addictive pain medication wasn’t the only problem and that many heroin addicts start out “with marijuana and other drugs.”

 

There is a relationship between cannabis and opioids, but Mr. Sessions has it backward. Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug to opioid addiction; it’s a safer alternative to pain medicines. Mr. Sessions’s vow to crack down on marijuana will only make the opioid epidemic worse.

 

We know that 40 percent of all opiate overdose deaths involve a prescription opiate. So having legal access to cannabis as another option for pain relief may actually reduce consumption of opiates.

 

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but consider the evidence. To start, a large study assessed the effect of medical-marijuana laws on opiate-related deaths between 1999 and 2010 in all 50 states and reported a 25 percent decrease in opiate overdose mortality in states where medical marijuana was legal, compared with those where it wasn’t. The study found that in 2010, medical-marijuana laws resulted in an estimated 1,729 fewer deaths than expected.

 

Other epidemiologic studies found similar results. A study published last year examined opiate-related deaths in Colorado between 2000 and 2015. Researchers compared mortality rates before and after the state legalized recreational cannabis in 2014. For controls, they chose two nearby states: Nevada, which legalized only medical cannabis, and Utah, where all cannabis use is illegal. The study found a 6.5 percent drop in opiate-related deaths after recreational cannabis became legal in Colorado.

 

Likewise, other researchers examined the link between medical cannabis and opiate use in a group of patients with chronic pain in New Mexico, one of the states hardest hit by the opioid crisis. They reported that subjects who had access to medical cannabis were 17 times more likely to stop using opiates for pain compared with those not using cannabis.

 

Because these are all observational studies, they cannot prove a causal link between cannabis use and lower opiate-related mortality. Still, the consistent epidemiologic evidence is hard to ignore.

 

Why might cannabis work so well as an alternative to opioids? It does offer some mild pain relief. But more significant, both opiates and cannabis — like all recreational drugs — cause the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway. That signal conveys a powerful sense of pleasure and craving. Thus, cannabis might pre-empt some of the rewarding effects of opiates, decreasing the general desire to use them.

 

There is also intriguing preliminary evidence that cannabidiol, a major component of marijuana, can blunt craving in individuals with opioid dependence following a period of abstinence.

 

If cannabis were actually a dangerous gateway drug, as the attorney general suggested, it would be very easy to see in the data. We would find that medical-marijuana laws increased opiate drug use and overdose deaths, when in fact just the opposite has happened.

 

Author: Richard A. Friedman is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College

 

Further Reading:

“Jeff Sessions' Approach to Solving the Opioid Addiction Crisis” : http://sco.lt/5nhcAb“Is There a Role for Medical Cannabis in Combating the Opioid Epidemic?” : http://bit.ly/MintzPostX“Four Newtown Area Docs Are Approved to Prescribe Medical Marijuana” : http://sco.lt/5QxUEz
Via Pharma Guy
Marvin Grinin's insight:
Doctors: Marijuana Can Save Lives
more...
Danny Bilow's comment, June 20, 12:39 PM
Michael, What an interesting read! I think the younger generation is starting to be more accepting as far as using marijuana for medicinal purposes. As we move forward I think Cannabis will become accepted more and more as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. This is especially important to get people off of opiates and use cannabis as a treatment for pain.
Radovan Andrejko's comment, September 6, 1:36 PM
You are currently looking for funds for your activities
Restart your projects or buy an apartment.
We offer loans abroad.

With capital to grant individual loans between short
and long term 4000 to 500 million euros for every serious person.
to be the real need, the interest rate is 3% per year.
We offer financial loans, mortgages, loans
Investment, car loan, personal loan.
We are available for customers up to 3 days after receiving your request.

Contact us by email: cavalletto6@gmail.com for your personal credit.
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