Marijuana has long been eschewed and demonized by mainstream medicine. Prior to rigorous testing, medical practitioners are extremely wary to recommend the use of any drug to patients for fear of causing more harm than good, as well as for fear of possible backlash – lawsuits, bad press, etc. – and anecdotal evidence has to be overlooked in the medical world. Only conclusive, clinical studies gain the acceptance of doctors and scientists and that’s the way it should be. However, often anecdotal evidence – unequivocal as it may seem – is enough for the general public and they may become frustrated with the medical world’s caution and bureaucracy (in most of the world it has previously been incredibly difficult to study marijuana, as it has long been an illegal substance) leading to its lagging advocacy of certain drugs and procedures. It’s hard to say whether medical science would save more lives moving quicker or if that would be to its detriment, and that’s outside the scope of this article. This article will instead focus on how medical marijuana has reduced deaths from pharmaceuticals since its adoption into medicine. After reading this, if you have one of the 49 conditions aided by medical marijuana, we’re sure you’ll be looking for a medical marijuana card online. Enjoy!
Every day in the US, 2,500 more youths (12-17) abuse a prescription pain reliever. More than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs, more than the combined number who reported abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin. Prescription drugs give the illusion of safety and this makes them incredibly dangerous and makes their users highly susceptible to overdose.
The availability of medical marijuana has reduced opioid abuse and overdose deaths because it has offered people an alternative for pain relief. Three of five opioid overdoses occur in people with legitimate prescriptions for pain pills. The replacing of prescription drugs with marijuana reduces opioid-related deaths – there were 1,700 fewer deaths in 2010 alone. Marcus Bachhuber reported on marijuana legalization, “Such laws were associated with a lower rate of overdose mortality that generally strengthened over time.”
The journal, Health Affairs, looked at prescriptions covered by Medicare between 2010 and 2013. They found that “the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly once a medical marijuana law was implemented”. This is significant. The most notable decline was in painkiller prescriptions, which fell by 3,645 daily doses per physician after medical marijuana laws were implemented! There were also statistically significant reductions in prescriptions for drugs used to treat seizures, depression, psychosis, anxiety, nausea, and sleep disorders.
In 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration found that abuse of the painkiller Fentanyl killed more than 1,000 people that year in the US. It is thirty to fifty times more powerful than heroin. Marijuana, on the other hand, is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose, yet still acts as a painkiller. Pharmaceutical companies are heavily invested in a highly lucrative industry so are unlikely to stop selling dangerous and unnecessary pharmaceuticals. Rather than focusing on changing things at that level – which will prove a slow and difficult process -, legalizing medical marijuana in all states will allow those needing pain relief to find it in a drug that has no chance of killing them from overdose and isn’t illegal. As well as pain relief, the use of medical marijuana has a whole slew of other medical applications, including: nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and seizures. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, and so can be used by those suffering from HIV, AIDS, or dementia. Emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuroprotective.
More than 30 percent of the U.S. population lives under some form of marijuana decriminalization, and according to a multitude of studies, these change in laws have not contributed to an increase in marijuana consumption nor negatively impacted adolescent attitudes toward drug use. It’s time that medical marijuana receives the recognition as a safer alternative to pharmaceuticals so that lives are saved. It’s time that the medical world adopts it not at its outer echelons, but rather at its nucleus. Medical practitioners should be recommending medical marijuana instead of other painkillers in a whole host of circumstances but this won’t happen until its accepted throughout the medical community, and subsequently accepted by all areas of society at large as a viable and safe way to treat ailments.
With all these statistics seemingly indicating that medical marijuana reduces deaths from pharmaceuticals it seems the next logical step is to legalize its use in all states.