Legal Cannabis Cuts Prescription Drug Use Down by 34%
As a medicine, the plant reduces use of schedule II-V drug prescriptions.
A study published by the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine found that 34% of patients with scheduled prescription medications discontinued their use of them completely within a span of 18-24 months, progressively substituting their medicine with cannabis.
The 83 patients involved in the study all suffered from chronic pain and had signed up for New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program. 28 patients using cannabis quite their prescriptions completely, showing us that cannabis can indeed be used to substitute scheduled drugs prescribed for chronic pain.
The Danger of Schedule II-V Drug Prescriptions
Pain killers can be nasty business. The great majority are opioids and can become addictive. They’re often sold illegally on the streets to victims that eventually overdose. In 2015, 33,000 people in the U.S. died from opioid overdose. This doesn’t include those that OD’d on morphine, codeine, and methadone – all also found in pain killers.
“The potential for addiction and health risks associated with using multiple scheduled drugs places additional direct monetary and health costs on patients and healthcare systems due to an increased number of side effects, risky drug interactions, dependency, and overdose,” researchers Jacob Miguel Vigil and Sarah See Stith of the University of Mexico stated. They’re the ones that conducted the study mentioned, titled, “Effects of Legal Access to Cannabis on Scheduled II-V Drug Prescriptions”.
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The Safety of Cannabis as a Pain Killer
As it becomes common knowledge that it’s impossible to overdose and die off cannabis, more people are turning to the plant to solve their health ailments. The question as to whether it’s addictive or not remains a mystery, with the question of defining what true addiction is arising. Some say it is, others say it isn’t, but what we do know is that cannabis doesn’t create physical withdrawal effects like many scheduled substances do. If one decides to stop using cannabis, the original ailment may return, but withdrawal effects won’t occur (like trembling, hot flashes, chattering teeth, etc.).
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Shedding Light on a Brighter Healthcare Future
As studies like this one begin to show the world the benefits of using cannabis as a medicine, we can begin to pull patients out of the dangerous scheduled prescription drug world and allow them to explore the realm of natural and holistic healing.
Unfortunately, cannabis is not included as a medicine in insurance policies, so more studies like this are still needed to prove that patients should be able to have safe access to the plant. Luckily, as legal cannabis continues to spread, more universities are gaining the right to study the plant in order to better understand its uses and effects on both health and society. So far, so good.