According to data published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, statewide medical marijuana legalization is associated with reduced opioid prescribing by orthopedic surgeons.
Researchers evaluated the association between state cannabis laws and opioid prescribing patterns by the surgeons between 2013 and 2017, NORML reported. Orthopedic surgeons operating on the musculoskeletal system are the third highest opioid prescribers among doctors in the US.
“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,” the researchers stated. “We 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.”
The researchers concluded that the “implementation of medical THC-grade cannabis laws and patient accessibility to in-state dispensaries are each associated with significantly reduced opioid prescribing by orthopedic surgeons.”
Previous studies by other researchers have also found that pain patients frequently reduce their use of prescription opioids if they become medical marijuana patients.