Laws covering medical or recreational use of marijuana are associated with reduced rates of opioid prescribing among federal health care program enrollees, results of two recently published investigations show.
In one study, researchers investigated whether medical cannabis access affected opioid prescribing in Medicare Part D, the federal program that subsidizes cost of prescription drugs and drug insurance premiums.
“Medical cannabis policies may be one mechanism that can encourage lower prescription opioid use and serve as a harm abatement tool in the opioid crisis,” Ms. Bradford and her coauthors wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Medical marijuana laws were associated with a decrease of 2.11 million daily opioid doses yearly from an average of 23.08 million doses yearly in the Medicare Part D population, according to results of the longitudinal analysis daily opioids doses filled in Medicare Part D from 2010 through 2015.
In a second study, medical marijuana laws were associated with lower opioid prescribing rates among Medicaid enrollees.
That finding was consistent with earlier studies looking more broadly at pain prescriptions covered by Medicaid that also showed a reduction, researchers Hefei Wen, PhD, and Jason M. Hockenberry, PhD, wrote in their JAMA Internal Medicine article.