Study: Nationwide medical marijuana laws would save lives — and a billion taxpayer dollars

A new study conducted by Ashley Bradford and W. David Bradford from the University of Georgia and published in Health Affairs found Medicare prescriptions for painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications decreased significantly in states with implemented medical marijuana laws. This suggests patients prefer medical marijuana therapy over traditional prescriptions when given the choice. The researchers then extended their analysis to prescriptions under Medicaid, so that they could see if the data resulting from older patients could be applied to people of all ages. Similar to the Medicare analysis, Medicaid prescriptions for certain medications dropped significantly in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Anti-nausea prescriptions dropped by 17%, antidepressants fell by 13%, seizure and psychosis medications fell by 12%, and opiate painkillers prescriptions dropped by 11%.

The drop in painkiller prescriptions may provide some information as to why opioid overdoses have dropped in states with medical marijuana laws. The Bradfords estimate these drops in prescriptions, if medical marijuana programs were to be implemented nationwide, could save taxpayers $1.1 billion on Medicaid prescriptions and $.5 billion in Medicare savings annually. 

This information has been provided by the Washington Post and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.