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A new study is revealing something many of us have known all along: Medical cannabis is helping to eliminate the need for harsh prescription drugs, and in turn, leading to fewer complications and fatalities due to overdoses and interactions. While most are rejoicing over the newly proved truth, some companies are disputing the facts, undoubtedly worried that medical cannabis will affect their bottom lines in the prescription drug world.

Testing and retesting

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The American Journal of Public Health published a new study last week that was led by a Columbia University epidemiologist, June Kim, and also included the participation of her colleagues and a few students.

The team looked at car crash rates in states where medical cannabis policies exist, to see just how many of those involved in accidents tested positive for prescription drugs.

The results produced some interesting information. In states where medical cannabis is legal, fatally injured drivers were much less likely to test positive for opioids, one of the strongest, and most abused, categories of prescription drugs.

Of the 18 states studies, where drug screenings are routinely conducted after traffic fatalities, deceased drivers between the ages of 21 and 40 were half as likely to test positive for opioids.

Researchers made notes in their findings regarding the age restrictions and why they believe the ages were limited to those between 21 and 40 years old.

Although we found a significant association only among drivers aged 21 to 40 years, the age specificity of this finding coheres with what we know about MMLs (medical marijuana laws): a minimum age requirement restricts access to medical marijuana for most patients younger than 21 years, and most surveyed medical marijuana patients are younger than 45 years.

While the presence of opioids does not necessarily mean they contributed to or caused the fatal crashes that were investigated, it is important to understand that these types of medications are most commonly used to control pain.

Pain management is one of the most cited reasons for receiving a medical cannabis prescriptions, meaning it’s easy to understand why opioid use would deteriorate in states with medical cannabis policies.

Rather than taking harsh opioids, that could potentially affect their motor skills, as well as their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, patients are offered a safer, natural medication with medical cannabis.

Not surprising

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While many in the medical field are exploring the options available when it comes to medical cannabis, some companies are urging providers not to believe the hype and to continue prescribing the chemical compounds they have been for years.

The Arizona-based pharmaceutical company, Insys Therapeutics, produces an oral spray that delivers fentanyl, one of the most dangerous opioid prescriptions on the market today.

In recent months, police across the nation have been seeing heightened overdoses and deaths due to this medication. Insys also plans to produce and market a spray that contains dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC.

To date, Insys Therapeutics has become the single largest financial contributor in Arizona’s anti-cannabis legislation. The company has donated over $500,000 to help stop medical cannabis legalization in the state, stating the new laws fail to protect residents, namely children.

The only thing Insys is worried about protecting is their bottom line. Insys is well aware of the declining use of opioids in states with medical cannabis policies and fears Arizona will follow suit if medical cannabis is made legal.

America is anxiously awaiting for the upcoming election, when many states will vote on whether or not to legalize medical cannabis. The data has never been more in the favor of legalizing. It’s up to the people to ensure the safest, most natural medication is made available to the public.

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