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Cannabis vs. Opiates and Big Pharma

An NIDA funded study co-authored by prohibitionist Keith Humphreys and widely distributed by the media says the association of medicinal cannabis and opioid overdose deaths in marijuana-legal states has changed over time, that the earlier results were “spurious” and marijuana now plays no role in countering the opioid crisis. And yet, a University of Texas medical study just revealed decreases in opioid prescriptions in cannabis-legal states:

11-JUN-2019 — Using data from privately-insured adults…revealed that there is a lower level of opioids prescribed in states that have allowed the use of medical marijuana. […]

“We found that the overall prescription opioid use increased by age, which we expected,” said senior author Mukaila Raji, UTMB professor and director, Division of Geriatrics Medicine. “But, when we looked at the results within different age groups, opioid prescription rates varied depending on the stringency of state cannabis laws. In particular, states that implemented medical cannabis laws had lower rates of opioid prescription in people aged 18 to 54.” […]

Earlier studies that analyzed data from Medicaid and Medicare enrollees suggest a relationship between cannabis laws and lower opioid use, but we’re the first to explore whether this link is mirrored among commercially insured adults — which encompasses a wide range of ages and other demographics.” […]

A decrease in opioid deaths might normally be expected to follow a decrease in opioid prescriptions. There are complications.

The Humphreys study was noted by Brendan Saloner, a co-author of the earlier 2014 study and a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health … who said, “I was not expecting this finding, but I think that it could plausibly be explained by the changing nature of the opioid crisis. Specifically, heroin and fentanyl have been involved in a lot more overdose deaths — including deaths that also involve prescription opioids — and that could reduce the protective effect of medical cannabis.”

It’s too late to incorporate Dr Raji’s UTMB results and data into Prof. Humphreys’ publication. Keith Humphreys’ study is emerging nationally as one more case of helping provide distractions and juggling evidence while refusing to admit marijuana is a safe, effective pain treatment and substitute for the dangerous or deadly side effects of Big Pharma’s pharmacopeia of horrors.

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