Time and again, research reports, experts, academics and even former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch have concluded and claimed that cannabis is not a gateway drug. Now, new research has found that weed reduces prescription drug abuse.
Weed Reduces Prescription Drug Abuse
The research comes from scientists at the University of New Mexico (UNM). The five-year-long study involved 125 participants, all of whom suffered from chronic pain. Eighty-three of them used cannabis as a prescriptive pain mediator, whereas 42 chose to abstain from it.
The researchers found that 34 percent of the cannabis users eventually stopped taking their pain medication, compared to just two percent of the non-cannabis consumers. Put differently, 98 percent of non-cannabis users continued taking prescription pain meds.
“Our current opioid epidemic is the leading preventable form of death in the U.S.—killing more people than car accidents and gun violence,” explained lead author and psychology professor Jacob Miguel Vigil. “Therefore, the relative safety and efficacy of using cannabis in comparison to that of other scheduled medications should be taken by the health providers and legislators.”
The study arose out of insights provided by co-investigator Dr. Anthony Reeve, a pain specialist in Albuquerque, New Mexico and one of the first physicians to authorize the use of cannabis for patients with chronic pain in the state of New Mexico.
Reeve observed a number of his patients coming back to see him less and less frequently after they enrolled in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program (MCP).
Additionally, many of his patients anecdotally claimed that they were not only reducing their pain medications, but other types of prescription meds as well.
Study co-author Dr. Sarah Stith, a micro-economist with a focus on healthcare, added: “The potential for addiction and health risks associated with using multiple scheduled drugs places additional direct monetary and health costs on patients and healthcare systems due to an increased number of side effects, risky drug interactions, dependency, and overdose.”
Cannabis vs. Opioids
With opioids alone—including prescription pain killers and street heroin—killing more than 33,000 people in 2015 and 91 Americans every single day, all three academics agree that cannabis is a solution.
After all, their research project seems pretty clear: Weed reduces prescription drug abuse. “No one has ever died from smoking too much cannabis,” said Vigil.