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Medical and adult-use marijuana laws, has made marijuana available to more Americans. Studies suggest marijuana use is rising fastest among older Americans-a group that's also most likely to have the type of pain conditions that respond best to marijuana, the researchers said. One study examines state implementation of medical and adult-use marijuana laws with opioid prescribing rates and spending among Medicaid enrollees, while a second study examines prescribing patterns for opioids in Medicare Part D and the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. In Prescription Nation, a digest analyzing how states are tackling the worst drug crisis in recorded USA history, the Council assigned its highest mark of "Improving" to Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, DC, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia. "These findings suggest that medical and adult-use marijuana laws have the potential to reduce opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees, a segment of population with disproportionately high risk for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose".

This crisis, which killed more than 42,000 Americans in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, costs the US more than $500 billion a year, a number that does not compare to the amount allotted.

Two studies published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine find that the availability of medical and recreational marijuana is linked to lower rates of opiate prescribing. The study has revealed that medical marijuana can lead to lower levels of opioid deaths, which has been identified in studies many times before. "Papers like these two suggest that cannabis may play a role". Medical pot was linked to reductions in hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl prescriptions, but not to prescriptions for oxycodone, Bradford said.

If the latest research is any indication, those actions might simply make the opioid epidemic even worse.

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Researchers found that Medicare patients in states with marijuana dispensaries filled prescriptions for about 14 percent fewer daily doses of opioids than those in other states. Patients who were once trying to relieve pain are now addicted to the drugs.

The two studies have some limitations, Dr. Kevin Hill of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Andrew Saxon of the University of Washington in Seattle wrote in an accompanying editorial. Also, it's unclear from the studies exactly how much marijuana use was for medical versus recreational purposes or how much people might have relied on other non-opioid painkillers.

Limiting initial opioid prescription lowers the risk of addiction and chances of unused drugs hitting the street.