Marijuana legalization continues to make a steady march across the union with many local governments getting on board for the new source of tax revenue. Logic would dictate that medical marijuana might be something pharmaceutical companies would support. After all, they’re in the business of making medicine and THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) can be manipulated to provide all kinds of medical treatments.
However, this is not the case. “Big Pharma” has actively resisted legalizing marijuana and the reason is a bit sad…they can sell more pills. The Washington Post reports:
There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws.
Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.
They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.
But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.
The study concludes that “Our findings and existing clinical literature imply that patients respond to medical marijuana legislation as if there are clinical benefits to the drug, which adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the Schedule 1 status of marijuana is outdated.”
There were some limitations to the study. They only studied Medicare Part D spending, but as the Post surmises:
Previous studies have shown that seniors are among the most reluctant medical-marijuana users, so the net effect of medical marijuana for all prescription patients may be even greater.