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A Win For Cannabis

Codeine Demand Drops After Recreational Cannabis Was Legalize


*Special thanks to George Mason University


The study conducted by George Mason University has found that there have been a significant decrease in the demand for pharmacy-based codiene within states that have legalized recreational states


This news is very promising as opioid addiction, misuse and overdose is a very challenging issue around the world and more so in the US.  Opioid is found in prescribed painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.  Addiction and misuse of opioids has drastic effects on patients, families, community and the economy as a whole. 


Opioid epidemic started in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies aggressively marketed opioid as a safe and non-addictive painkillers.  But opiod is addictive and a lot of people that were prescribed with painkillers that contain opioid ended up being dependent on it.  This didn't stop pharmaceutical companies from releasing different versions of opioids that lead to misuse and addiction. 


Prescription opioid is not the only factor of the opioid epidemic, but opioid is also found in heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl which contains very powerful opioids. 


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 500,000 people have died from opioid overdose in the United States from 1999 to 2019.


Studies have shown that since the legalization of cannabis in the US, the demand for opioids has dropped.  Currently 21 States have legalized cannabis and it looks like more is following.  Reduction of misuse of opioids will save lives.  The research indicated that since the passing of recreational cannabis it has lessened the demand for opioids in pharmacies. 


Johanna Catherine Maclean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University commented that even though cannabis and opioids can minimize pain symptoms, they are not the same with the impact that both have on one's overall health.  “While all substances have some risks, cannabis use is arguably less harmful to health than the nonmedical use of prescription opioids.”


Experts in medical care are hoping that awareness of cannabis as an alternative treatment would be able to persuade people who would be dependent on opioids to switch cannabis instead.


Cannabis comes in many shapes and sizes.  Cannabis is often associated with marijuana which contains THC, a chemical compound or cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant.  THC bas psychoactive effects which could cause you to feel "high" if consumed in high amounts.  Marijuana often comes in flowers, pre-rolled joints, edibles or in drinks.  There is another side to cannabis too.  Something different and something mostly used for medicinal purposes.  CBD is another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant.  CBD is similar to THC, but the big difference is CBD will not make you high or alter your mind.  CBD comes in tinctures or oil, vape oils, capsules, edibles, topicals or as flower buds.  CBD is known to help reduce pain and inflammation, promote sleep, treat insomnia, manage anxiety and stress, enhance your mood and concentration and can strengthen your immune system.  


Data from Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidation Orders System found in the states that have legalized recreational cannabis there has been 26-37 % reduction of pharmacy-based codeine.  There has not been much impact in hospitals as they have different regulations than pharmacies do. 


Lawmakers can use this study to decide on the positive effects cannabis can have on medical care, community and the economy.  This is definitely a win for the cannabis community.


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Written by Vivek Roachthavilit


Medical News


Cornell Chronicle

George Mason University

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