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Medicinal Marijuana Leads to Less Prescription Drug Use

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There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests that if a state sanctions the use of medicinal cannabis for use by its residents, it leads to a reduction in the use of prescription drug use. Now, this has been backed up in terms of research with results finding that there is a “quantifiable” decline in the numbers of prescription drugs being issued. The results of the study were published in the widely respected journal “Health Affairs”.

The research was carried out by a team based at the University of Georgia. Their aim was to try and establish a link between medicinal marijuana laws and the prescribing behaviors of general practitioners in seventeen US states over a three-year period. To be exact, the team at the University of Georgia looked at patients’ use and spending of prescription drugs which are sanctioned under Medicare, under the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Glaucoma
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders
  • Spasticity

From these nine conditions listed above, it was found that seven of the nine conditions saw a subsequent fall in prescription drug use – due in part to the relaxation of the medicinal marijuana laws in those states.


The lead researcher commented on these results by saying that “when there was a medicinal marijuana law that came into effect, it was found thatthe number of FDA approved prescription drugs fell”.

“From the results, we can safely say that the reduced number of prescription drugs issued has led to a dramatic reduction in drug spending which we have put at around $165 Million, which is a significant monetary saving which has been achieved as a result of changed prescribing behaviors, in part due to the relaxation of the medicinal marijuana laws. Although, it cannot be proved that medicinal marijuana was in deed the only contributor to this fall in spending.

By rolling out medicinal marijuana laws to every state in the USA, the researchers said that the health service could achieve total savings of nearly $500 million annually.Could this act as the catalyst to roll out medicinal marijuana to the whole of the USA?

It is clear that the findings imply that by introducing medicinal marijuana, there are clear benefits on the amount of drug spending.The researchers said that their findings suggest that the current Schedule 1 status of medicinal marijuana is in need of reform.

Other data from the study suggests that cannabis can prevent opioid misuse. The study points to the fact that opioid abuse is markedly reduced in areas where patients have access to medicinal marijuana, which throws further weight behind the introduction of a roll out to medicinal cannabis across the USA. Whether this will happen or not, remains to be seen.