Study: Medical Cannabis Registrants Reduce Their Prescription Drug Use

Marijuana medicineChronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical marijuana program are more likely to reduce their use of prescription drugs than are those patients who don’t use cannabis, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Investigators from the University of New Mexico compared prescription drug use patterns over a 24-month period in 83 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program and 42 non-enrolled patients. Researchers reported that, on average, program registrants significantly reduced their prescription drug intake while non-registrants did not.

Specifically, 34 percent of registered patients eliminated their use of prescription drugs altogether by the study’s end, while an additional 36 percent of participants used fewer medications by the end of the sample period.

“Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations,” authors concluded. “[A] shift from prescriptions for other scheduled drugs to cannabis may result in less frequent interactions with our conventional healthcare system and potentially improved patient health.”

A pair of studies published in the journal Health Affairs previously reported that medical cannabis access is associated with lower Medicaid expenditures and reduced spending on Medicare Part D approved prescription medications.

Separate studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioidsbenzodiazepinesanti-depressantsmigraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

An abstract of the study, “Effects of legal access to cannabis on Scheduled II–V drug prescriptions,” appears online here.

8 thoughts

  1. Hey, NORML, just a heads-up. MI is trying to set up a legalization push for next year, but here is some movement, of the unfortunate nature….also….I am very, very passionate about our movement, but, in terms of legalization, I feel, as a Michigander..

    we have problems. It is not just opposition to medical marijuana. We have problems.


    1. I have chronic back problems from a mall masseuse who literally jumped off the ground swung his hands in the air fully extended and slammed them into my shoulders before hitting the ground. Needless to say my spine pops a min. of 100 times a day.

      My ex-gfrined was a registered Nurse whos husband was murdered w a baseball bat and miscarriaged their two kids. Her Doc. prescribed barbiturates that she is now completely dependent on. I’ve seen her detox one too many days and accompanied her in the ER while she swung her arms around screaming non-nonsensically.

      Now someone dare tell me I should be taking pharmaceutical pills for my paint management.

      1. LMAO! “Paint management?!” Oh God that was too funny, Brandon. Im sorry for being an @$$, but if we cant find some humor in all this tragic irony whats the point?
        You are absolutely better off managing your pain with whole plant medicine such as marijuana. Opiates and fentanyl are strictly for very limited use during surgery in my opinion.

    2. it looks like this patent is more specific to industrial hemp (sativa species)?? the cannabis that is used for its medical properties is generally cannabis indica species. hemp usually doesn’t have a high enough cannabinoid content to be used for medical purposes.. curious to see how monsanto will try to get involved with GMOs in the cannabis industry though.

  2. I think many of us have realized for a long time that cannabis is an incredible replacement for a handful of pills out Govt would prefer we use. The anti-marijuana laws that so many of us must endure are probably in place for that very reason – Big Pharma, among others, pay our politicians to keep it illegal because it cuts into their profits. Disgusting but true!

    Ed Gillespie, who is running for Governor of Virginia, states it is all about the message we are sending to young people and claims that is why he is against legalization. I suppose he considers the current message to be superior. The current message is do what we tell you, whether it makes sense or not, or you’ll get locked up and have your stuff stolen by the police.

    I’ll be voting for Northam to be our next Governor for sure and hope every Virginia who cares about ending the stupidity and harms of prohibition will too!!!

  3. I’ve had the excruciating painful disease Guillian-Barre Syndrome for two years now. Went to Pain Management and my pain meds have been reduced due to the new opiates guidelines here in Ohio. I even ask if the doctor would prescribe me cannabis – he stammered and studdered and said there was not enough research to be able to prescribe. (Oh yes, he did prescribe me morphine to try! Pathetic!
    Does anyone know of a doctor that might be able to help me? I presently live 50 miles from Columbus. Thanks for your concern.

  4. I just had my yearly Doctor’s Appt. I get NorCor every year. I have a ruptured disc at L-4=L-5. So when my back goes out. I take one a day. NOT now new rules. The Doc would not prescribe any Opiates. I told the Doc South Carolina better get Medical Marijuana.

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