Paul Armentano of NORML says it’s unfortunate that New Mexico’s Department of Health Secretary, Lynn Gallagher, didn’t strongly consider scientific evidence regarding medical marijuana reducing opioid abuse. He says that numerous scientific studies support using medical marijuana to reduce opioid abuse hospitalizations and over dose deaths, along with opioid dependency. Armentano says that Gallagher’s ideology is being placed above scientific proof.
Armentano cites multiple studies regarding marijuana’s impact on opioid abuse, according to Santa Fe New Mexican. The first study cited is from 2014 showing annual reductions in opioid-related deaths in states where medical marijuana is legal. Another report included, from a 2015 report from The RAND Corporation, supports those findings.
A 2016 study was noted to show that those suffering from chronic pain disorders reduced opioid use by 60-percent, on average, after starting medical marijuana use. Another 2016 study showed that 44-percent fewer opioid prescriptions written/filled where medical marijuana is legal.
Armentano included a recent study, published earlier in 2017, showing that opioid-related emergency room visits decreased by 23-percent where medical marijuana is legal. There were also 13-percent fewer hospitalizations from opioid abuse/dependence/overdose. The study said, “Medical marijuana legalization was associated with 23-percent and 13-percent reductions in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse and opioid pain reliever overdose, respectively.”
He pointed to another 2017 study showing that there is less money being spent on opioid medications in medical marijuana legal states.
The NORML deputy director went a step further and pointed to studies that show that medical marijuana positively impacts those seeking treatment for opioid dependencies/addictions. He cited three different studies spanning from 2009 through 2015 that medical marijuana didn’t “adversely impact opioid drug treatment”. They also stated that medical marijuana users are more likely to complete an opioid drug treatment program.
Opioid overdose deaths have increased by four times since 1999. Lawmakers and public health experts are urged to be open-minded regarding allowing medical marijuana to aid those with opioid addictions as an alternative option.
Medical marijuana is able to offer patients a safer, and potentially more effective, option than opioids and other harmful pharmaceuticals. Armentano also says that the ideologies of politicians needs to be put aside to allow for scientific evidence to prove itself.