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Medical Marijuana Laws May Not Impact Opioid Use

No reduction seen in individual-level nonmedical prescription opioid use from 2002 to 2014

medical marijuana

THURSDAY, July 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Medical marijuana laws do not appear to impact nonmedical prescription opioid use or opioid use disorder, according to a study published online July 17 in JAMA Network Open.

Luis E. Segura, M.D., from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues used data from 627,000 individuals (aged ≥12 years) participating in the 2004 to 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to evaluate the association between state-level medical marijuana law enactment and nonmedical prescription opioid use and prescription opioid use disorder.

The researchers observed small changes in nonmedical prescription opioid use prevalence after medical marijuana law enactment (4.32 to 4.86 percent; adjusted odds ratio, 1.13; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.06 to 1.20). There was a slight decline in prescription opioid use disorder prevalence following law enactment, but the change was not statistically significant (15.41 to 14.76 percent; adjusted odds ratio, 0.95; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.81 to 1.11). Findings were similar across all ages and races/ethnicities.

"Medical marijuana law enactment was not associated with a reduction in individual-level nonmedical prescription opioid use, contradicting the hypothesis that people would substitute marijuana for prescription opioids," the authors write.

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