Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Need for Other Meds?

Photo Credit: Verloren Hoop/Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Verloren Hoop/Wikipedia

According to a new study, states that have legalized medical marijuana witness a significant decline in prescriptions for illnesses that could be treated with cannabis, while at the same time, prescriptions for drugs that treat conditions for which marijuana wouldn't be successful have remained the same. Most commonly, medical marijuana is used to treat pain, thereby reducing the the average daily doses of prescription painkillers, which could play a helpful role in reducing the amount of fatal overdoses caused by opiates.

In a study, researchers looked at data from Medicare Part D between the years of 2010 and 2013, and they compared states that had legalized medical marijuana to those that had not. Investigators found medical marijuana had the greatest effect on prescription painkillers, with 1,826 fewer daily doses of painkillers prescribed on average per year in medical marijuana states than in outlaw states. Other conditions like anxiety, depression, nausea, psychosis, seizures, and sleep disorders saw smaller averages of 265 to 562 daily doses annually. This has led many to wonder whether medical marijuana could reduce the need for other medications. Dr. David Katz from the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven Connecticut says this data suggests marijuana could serve as a valuable alternative to FDA-approved drugs that come with worse side effects. 

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