How medical marijuana could literally save lives

How medical marijuana could literally save lives

In Chronic Pain, Physicians, Top Stories by Chris DollardLeave a Comment

Medical marijuana opponents recently pounced on a big new analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that there isn’t good evidence that marijuana works for many of the conditions, like glaucoma, anxiety, or Parkinson’s disease, that it’s often prescribed for. The JAMA study was based on a meta-analysis of the findings of 79 previously-published studies. Now, the study did not say pot isn’t helpful for people suffering from those ailments; it said there was no evidence to that effect, as German Lopez noted at Vox. Importantly, however, the JAMA study found solid evidence that marijuana is effective at treating one big condition: chronic pain. The JAMA review found “30% or greater improvement in pain with cannabinoid compared with placebo,” across the 79 studies it surveyed. A new NBER working paper out today is a helpful reminder of why that finding is so important. Pain management — especially chronic pain management — is a tricky business. Prescription painkillers are highly addictive and deadly — they killed more than 16,000 people in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s’s latest numbers. In the U.S., drug overdoses kill more people than suicide, guns or car crashes. The CDC now calls prescription painkiller abuse an “epidemic.” The researchers on the NBER paper, however, found that access to state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries is linked to a significant decrease in both prescription painkiller abuse, and in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers. The study authors examined admissions to substance abuse treatment programs for opiate addiction as well as opiate overdose deaths in states that do and do not have medical marijuana laws. They found that the presence of marijuana dispensaries was associated with a 15 to 35 percent decrease in substance abuse admissions. Opiate overdose deaths decreased by a […]

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