Cannabis Legalization Reduces Demand for Prescription Drugs

Legalizing adult-use cannabis lowers the demand for prescription drugs through state Medicaid programs, according to a recent study.

Full story after the jump.

Adult-use cannabis legalization reduces demand for prescription drugs through state Medicaid programs, according to research published last week in the Health Economics journal. When states approve adult-use reforms, the number of prescriptions within the drug classes that align with the medical indications for pain, depression, anxiety, sleep, psychosis, and seizures significantly decline, the researchers from the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and Indiana University found.

In an interview with the Cornell Chronicle, Shyam Raman, a doctoral student in the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, described the study’s results as having “important implications.”

“The reductions in drug utilization that we find could lead to significant cost savings for state Medicaid programs. The results also indicate an opportunity to reduce the harm that can come with the dangerous side effects associated with some prescription drugs.” – Raman to the Chronicle

The study used data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in all 50 states from 2011 to 2019 – in 2012, Colorado and Washington State became the first states to legalize cannabis for adult use.

A separate study published last November in the journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids found that 65% of survey respondents reduced or stopped taking at least one prescription medication after enrolling in a medical cannabis program. Another study published in January in the Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal found that medical cannabis patients diagnosed with ADHD were likely to use fewer prescription drugs for their condition.

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