A recent study published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction reveals that the legalization of medical cannabis is associated with a modest reduction (0.6% to 1.5%) in nonprescribed opioid use.
According to a report by Marijuana Moment, researchers from Rutgers, Columbia, and the University of Arizona found potential “substitution effects” where cannabis may replace opioids, particularly in those with cannabis use disorder.” However, occasional nonmedical prescription opioid use increased by 2.1%, driven by individuals with cannabis use disorder.
Lead author Hillary Samples acknowledges the harm reduction potential but emphasizes the need for comprehensive interventions to address the opioid crisis.
“There might be some benefits to allowing legal access to medical cannabis in the context of opioid-related harms,” Samples said in a press release about the study. “However, from a policy perspective, there are much more effective interventions to address the ongoing overdose crisis, such as increasing access to treatment for opioid addiction.”
While the study contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting cannabis as an alternative to opioids, it underscores the importance of thoughtful consideration in policymaking and public health initiatives. Other recent studies have also suggested positive correlations between cannabis access and reduced opioid cravings and prescriptions.
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