In states where medical marijuana is legal, there are fewer cases of opioid addiction. The numbers continue to decline as legalization continues. According to the American Journal of Public Health, medical marijuana is the ideal substitute for addictive and deadly pharmaceuticals. In fact, this is widespread knowledge in the medical industry and has been for centuries already.
The Problem with Opioids in California
There are many, many people addicted to opioids in California. The problem is not exclusive to the state, but common across the United States. Doctors prescribe opioids for every ache and pain, and these drugs are highly addictive. OxyContin and other prescription painkillers fill many a medicine cabinet, and people are taking them to provide pain relief, whether severe, chronic or mild.
Although opioids do an excellent job of relieving pain, they are dangerous. Today’s ache-free moment is tomorrow’s absolute misery. These drugs are so addictive that people cannot stop taking them. They come to rely on opioids to get them through the day. In bad cases, addicts will start taking heroin when their opioid prescriptions expire.
Here are some scary statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Most Common Prescription Opioids
Today, prescription opioids are responsible for nearly half of all opioid overdoses in the United States. They killed more than 15,000 people in 2015 alone. These opioids are the most common in overdose cases:
Deaths by Opioid Overdose
Between 1999 and 2014, people aged 25 to 54 years had the highest overdose rates. Men overdose more than women do, but this gap is rapidly closing as more females abuse these drugs.
Other Opioid Statistics
Overdosing is just one risk people face when taking these prescriptions. Abuse, addiction, and misuse are also great dangers:
- Nearly two million Americans were suffering opioid addiction in 2014.
- Of those taking prescription opioids long-term for pain, one in four becomes addicted.
- Misusing opioids sends more than 1,000 people to the emergency room every day.
Opioids vs. Medical Marijuana
A study, conducted by the American Journal of Public Health, found a link between lower opioid use rates and medical marijuana. It examined car crash fatalities between 1999 and 2013 to discover fewer cases of opioid involvement in states that have legalized cannabis. Previous studies agree that legalizing medical marijuana reduces opioid overdoses, but this study took a more general approach to opioid use.
It is possible that opioids were not a contributing factor in all of the vehicle wrecks with positive tests. Some may have been taking their prescriptions as recommended by their doctors, in which case, they were not necessarily impaired to drive. The study used data from 18 states and examined samples from 68,394 vehicular deaths under federal traffic safety statistics.
It found that after states legalized medical marijuana, people were not as likely to misuse opioids. For example, there was a 1.7 percent reduction in positive opioid cases after Montana’s legalization of medical marijuana. Doctors can prescribe medical cannabis in place of prescription opioids, as it is just as effective, but without the danger of addiction and other side effects.
Medical Marijuana as Replacement for Opioids
In conclusion, the study found that the adverse effects of opioid use would decrease more and more in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Individuals will start treating chronic and severe pain by substituting opioids with cannabis. Those advocating for legalization and regulation argue that it can minimize the use of prescription opioids, which can lead to overdosing and addiction. Weed cannot.
The Food & Drug Administration has yet to evaluate medical marijuana for safety and efficacy, but anecdotal evidence shows that it helps millions of patients cope with severe pain. Prescription painkillers are the root cause of the widespread opioid epidemic sweeping across the United States and in 2014 alone, as many as 28,647 people died from heroin and prescription opioid overdose.
Some have concerns about the clinical trials associated with medical products. According to Science Magazine, researchers worry that informal experimentation is outpacing scientific research. Millions of patients now have access to medical marijuana and they are treating themselves with it. Some argue that marijuana policy is enabling access to products that still need to go through standard clinical trials.
However, nobody has ever overdosed on cannabis. Not once. It is not addictive either. Advocates claim that even self-treating is safer than prescribed painkillers, and this history of zero incidences simply proves it. As people become more health conscious and concerned about what they put into their bodies, medical marijuana is likely to skyrocket itself into the future.
The fact that opioid use is decreasing in states that legalize medical cannabis is a testament to its ability to treat this addiction. Many addicts are now using cannabis to stop taking heroin and prescribed opiates. If you have a Medical Marijuana Card in California, then Pot Valet can deliver the highest-grade medical cannabis right to your doorstep.