Medical Cannabis: Saving Lives

medical cannabis

medical cannabisNew studies into the use of medical cannabis show a surprising trend that indicates that it is saving lives versus causing harm. As the uses for medical marijuana continue to be studied, new research clearly indicates that it may actually be effective in lowering death rates as well as helping multiple medical conditions. A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network, shows indications that states with medical cannabis laws in place have a smaller percentage of pain pill, such as Vicodin and Percocet, overdoses. States such as California and Oregon which had these laws in place prior to 1999 were compared to states such as Colorado, Hawaii and Vermont where the laws were only enacted between 1999 and 2010.

All 50 states were studied over a period of time and death certificates checked in order to determine cause of death. In instances where medical cannabis laws were in place, the study showed a drop in overdose deaths versus states with no such laws. While overall, opioid deaths have actually increased in the country, it would appear that medical providers in states with the option to prescribe medical marijuana are choosing that route as an alternative. With different options in place for treatments of everything from pain management to a cure for insomnia, medical marijuana is proving to be an effective treatment option.

Researchers gathered data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to determine what the rate of overdose deaths were in all 50 states over a period of 11 years. They then chose to look at states with medical marijuana laws on the books to determine if there was a difference in the number of overdoses. The results seemed to indicate the medical cannabis did seem to be a life saver for those experiencing pain and trying to cope.

The number of deaths from opioid overdoses dropped 24.8 percent lower in states that allowed the legal use of medical marijuana versus states with no laws in place. The study took into account the states that implemented it prior to 1999 as well as those states that passed laws post-1999. The findings seem to indicate that as time has progressed, the number of deaths from overdose has decreased as the prescribing of medical marijuana started to take precedence to standard opioids.

Seventeen  states are now allowing medical cannabis as an alternative treatment for pain relief such as chronic pain or neuropathic pain, like those associated with spinal surgery or terminal illnesses. Medical marijuana can also be used to help individuals suffering from severe nausea, severe muscle spasms and tension, insomnia and even those with a consistent lack of appetite. As more medical professionals begin turning to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment method, the possibilities are endless as to what else may be treated. New studies and treatment methods will allow patients a chance to avoid common drugs that can be addictive and potentially harmful over a longer period of time.

Different treatment options can be a blessing to people suffering from diseases such as cancer, HIV, AIDS or MS. Chronic pain sufferers now have a choice. With medical cannabis becoming a more viable option for individuals who are suffering there are now more options than ever before.

The potential benefits of this study are overwhelming. New options to prevent drug overdoses are available. While it may seem farfetched, medical cannabis may truly be a life saver.

By Kimberley Spinney


JAMA International Medicine

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