"Although NC NORML values the steps toward medical cannabis, it's unfortunate that the General Assembly is missing an opportunity to reduce the use of opioids. The bill doesn't include opioid reduction therapy for people trapped by opioids due to chronic pain or addiction. In just one month (June 2020), NC had 1,348 opioid overdoses; meanwhile, there are no overdoses with cannabis." says Zac Lentz, President of NC NORML.

Opioid reduction therapy using cannabis replaces or reduces the use of deadly opioids with severe side effects.  Medical cannabis is less addictive and has no fatal side effects.

Multiple medical and economic journals and data from Medicare and Medicaid find that states with legal medical cannabis experience a reduction of opioid use. A few studies are cited below.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25154332/  

The Journal of Pain found "among study participants that medical cannabis use was associated with a 64% decrease in opioid use (n = 118), decreased number and side effects of medications, and an improved quality of life (45%). This study suggests that many CP (chronic pain) patients are essentially substituting medical cannabis for opioids and other medications for chronic pain treatment, and finding the benefit and side effect profile of cannabis to be greater than these other classes of medications." https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1526590016005678

The Rand Corporation found that in states with legalized cannabis (2006 to 2010), the amount of cocaine consumed decreased by approximately 50 percent, while an estimated amount of marijuana consumption increased more than 30 percent. These figures are consistent with supply-side indicators, such as seizures and production estimates.   https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IsrsHSuZvYxNrE18bTG9pwnNdD_AoOqp/view?usp=sharing 

Over 6 years, the National Institute of Health found that states with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower opioid overdose mortality rate. Each subsequent year further reduced opioid overdoses. Overdoses were decreased by 20% during the 1st year and dropped to 33% in the 6th year. Secondary analyses found similar results. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IsrsHSuZvYxNrE18bTG9pwnNdD_AoOqp/view?usp=sharing  

Orthopedic surgeons are among the highest prescribers of opioids. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons found that overall opioid prescribing by orthopedic surgeons in this cohort was reduced in states permitting patient access to medical cannabis, compared with those who do not. This study is the first to examine the association between the implementation of state cannabis laws and prescribing patterns for opioids by orthopaedic surgeons in Medicare Part D patients. "In this study, we observed an association between state-level legalization of medical cannabis and opioid prescribing by orthopedic surgeons in the Medicare Part D cohort. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32404683/

Additionally, Health Affairs published a financial analysis estimating a $475.8 million savings in Medicaid prescriptions during 2014 in states with legalized medical marijuana. They concluded that if all states had medical marijuana laws in 2014, total savings would have been approximately $1.01 billion. www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1135  

"While the side effects of opioids can be life-threatening with 30 side effects, cannabis has one long-term side effect- periodontal disease and a few temporary side effects. Patients who have access to cannabis can reduce or totally eliminate opioids." says Zac Lentz.  

Find out more at www.NCNORML.org   

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