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Medical Marijuana States See Significant Drop in Opioid Deaths. Makes sense!

Posted by Scruffy @ 9:26 on September 10, 2014  

By Dr. Mercola

A new study found that deaths from opioid overdoses have fallen sharply in the 23 US states where medical marijuana is now legal. Coincidence? Not likely.

For those with chronic pain, medical marijuana can be life changing, allowing a safer, natural form of treatment than the conventionally recommended pain-relieving drugs called opioids.

There is a wealth of research linking marijuana with pain relief. In one study, just three puffs of marijuana a day for five days helped those with chronic nerve pain to relieve pain and sleep better.1

Meanwhile, deaths from prescription opioid overdoses are skyrocketing with little sign of stopping… except in areas where people in pain have access to marijuana instead.

In states where medical marijuana is legal, overdose deaths from opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and heroin decreased by an average of 20 percent after one year, 25 percent after two years and up to 33 percent by years five and six.2 As the researchers explained:3

Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. Opioid analgesic overdose mortality continues to rise in the United States, driven by increases in prescribing for chronic pain.

Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis, laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them…”

According to 2010 data, there were enough narcotic painkillers being prescribed in the US to medicate every single adult, around the clock, for a month.4 By 2012, a whopping 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written in the US, 5 which equates to 82.5 prescriptions for every 100 Americans. And those narcotics are responsible for 46 deaths each and every day…

While critics of medical marijuana (which, by the way, are in the minority, as 85-95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and 58-59 percent are in favor of legalizing marijuana) point out its risks, they pale in comparison to those of opioids. While some do become addicted, or at least dependent, on marijuana, it is far less addictive than prescription opioids.

Many people find themselves addicted to painkillers before they even realize what’s happened, often after taking the drugs to recover from surgery or treat chronic back, or other, pain.

The drugs work by binding to receptors in your brain to decrease the perception of pain. But they also create a temporary feeling of euphoria, followed by dysphoria, which can easily lead to physical dependence and addiction.

This may drive some people to take larger doses in order to regain the euphoric effect, or escape the unhappiness caused by withdrawal. Others find they need to continue taking the drugs not only to reduce withdrawal symptoms but to simply feel normal. Large doses of the painkillers can cause sedation and slowed breathing to the point that breathing stops altogether, resulting in death.

Marijuana is also said to be a “gateway” drug for more dangerous drugs like heroin, which is ironic since opioids – not marijuana – are chemically similar to heroin, and virtually indistinguishable as far as your brain is concerned. And, prescription painkillers – not marijuana – have recently been tagged as gateway drugs to heroin

Why Was Marijuana Declared a Schedule 1 Substance in the First Place?

Marijuana was a popular botanical medicine in the 19th and early 20th centuries, common in US pharmacies of the time. By the mid-1930s, cannabis was regulated as a drug in every state.

In 1970, the Controlled Substance Act was enacted and changed its classification to a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This act labeled cannabis as a drug with a “high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medical use,” which clearly is not an accurate description.

Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote. In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was formed to enforce the newly created drug schedules, and the fight against marijuana use began.

Even in states where medical marijuana use is legal, such as California, the DEA has raided medical marijuana suppliers and even arrested patients, because on a federal level, possessing or distributing marijuana is still considered a criminal offense.

Oxycodone, fentanyl, and meperidine (Demerol), which are among the most commonly abused opioids and leading causes of opioid overdose deaths, are Schedule II drugs, meaning they should technically be less dangerous than marijuana, a notion that is easily dismissed.

While prescription painkillers were responsible for 16,600 deaths in 2010, one study found “little, if any effect of marijuana use on… mortality in men and… women.”6 Meanwhile, until recently certain opioid prescription drugs such as Vicodin were classified as Schedule III substances, which are defined as “drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.”

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only recently recommended tighter controls on painkiller prescriptions, and has announced its intention to reclassify hydrocodone-containing painkillers from Schedule III to Schedule II drugs. The reclassification will affect how hydrocodone-containing drugs can be prescribed and refilled.

Doctors will only be allowed to prescribe a 90-day supply of the drug per prescription, and they will no longer be permitted to phone in refills. Rather, the patient has to bring the prescription with them to the pharmacy. The new regulations are expected to take effect sometime this year.

Ironically enough, while talking about the need for stricter controls and less addictive painkillers, the FDA recently approved the first drug containing pure hydrocodone for the US market, called Zohydro ER (Zogenix). All other hydrocodone-containing painkillers on the market are mixed with other non-addictive ingredients.

Marijuana Treatment Is Likely Far Safer Than Heroin/Opioid-Based Drugs

 

Full article: http://tinyurl.com/l8d3lx8

 

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Post by the Golden Rule. Oasis not responsible for content/accuracy of posts. DYODD.