Drug prescriptions fall drastically in US states where cannabis is legal for medical purposes

If you have cannabis, you don't need these, and unlike them, cannabis won't kill you. Photo: chrstphre ? campbell

If you have cannabis, you don’t need these, and unlike them, cannabis won’t kill you. Photo:
chrstphre ? campbell

A study just published in the journal, Health Affairs, discovered that markedly fewer prescription drugs are issued in the 25 states plus Washington, DC, where cannabis consumption is permitted for medical purposes. The study was undertaken by father and daughter W David and Ashley Bradford of the University of Georgia and examined drugs that were paid for under Part D of the social welfare programme, Medicare, from 2010 to 2013. Medicare boasts over 44 million enrolees.

Prescriptions go down

Where medical marijuana was permissible, there were less prescriptions for drugs to treat anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures and sleep disorder, for which marijuana is an alternative. The reduction amounted to 11 percent of prescriptions. Prescriptions didn’t drop for medications such as blood thinners, whose effect cannabis doesn’t replace. Ashley Bradford remarked, ?The results suggest people are using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes.?

Although prescriptions for glaucoma medication go up

Prescription drugs for glaucoma, which causes eye pain and can lead to blindness, actually increased in prevalence. Cannabis provides relief for an hour, so it is not a sustainable treatment. The Bradfords posited that patients try marijuana before seeking long-lasting prescription drugs. The male Bradford revealed that cannabis and glaucoma was the secondmost googled medical term after cannabis and pain.

Opiods might kill you; cannabis won’t

A major danger of prescription drugs is addiction and overdose, with the latter at an all-time-high. This is particularly true in the case of opiods, the most-commonly prescribed pain meds in the United States, constituting 90 percent of the market. This category includes codeine, morphine and oxycodone. A study by Castlight Health that was published in April found that opiod prescriptions quadrupled between 1999 and 2010 and 16,000 people die from them every year. Almost two million people are addicted to them per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are 25 percent fewer deaths from opiod overdoses in the more enlightened states. “The results show that marijuana might be beneficial with diverting people away from opioids” was the comment of W David Bradford. Sheigla Murphy, director of San Francisco’s Center for Substance Abuse Studies, was more quotable, declaring of cannabis: “The one thing we know is no-one has ever died of it.” Four of every five new heroin users begin by abusing prescription opiods.

How is Big Pharma taking this?

Big Pharma isn’t taking this lying down. Many reports claim that the most outspoken anti-cannabis researchers have suckled at its teat and it’s known that it diverts huge amounts of money to anti-cannabis campaigns.

Are doctors in favour?

Doctors can’t prescribe marijuana ? they can only recommend it, although a survey by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 turned up the fact that 76 percent of US doctors would prescribe it if only they could. Meanwhile, polls have showed that a majority of US citizens supports legalisation, including 80 percent of Republicans. No insurance company will cough up for cannabis, so users must pay out of pocket.

How much could be saved?

Medical marijuana saved Medicare around $165 million (?126 million) in 2013. If it were available nationwide, the saving would be circa $470 million (?359 million) ? half a percent of expenditure, which represents 3.2 percent of GDP. The cost of prescription drugs rises inexorably.

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