Study: Medical Marijuana Patients Reduce Their Prescription Drug Use

By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Chronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical marijuana program are more likely to reduce their use of prescription drugs than are those patients who don’t use cannabis, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Investigators from the University of New Mexico compared prescription drug use patterns over a 24-month period in 83 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program and 42 non-enrolled patients. Researchers reported that, on average, program registrants significantly reduced their prescription drug intake while non-registrants did not.

Specifically, 34 percent of registered patients eliminated their use of prescription drugs altogether by the study’s end, while an additional 36 percent of participants used fewer medications by the end of the sample period.

“Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations,” authors concluded. “[A] shift from prescriptions for other scheduled drugs to cannabis may result in less frequent interactions with our conventional healthcare system and potentially improved patient health.”

A pair of studies published in the journal Health Affairs previously reported that medical cannabis access is associated with lower Medicaid expenditures and reduced spending on Medicare Part D approved prescription medications.

Separate studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioids, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, migraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

An abstract of the study, “Effects of legal access to cannabis on Scheduled II–V drug prescriptions,” appears online here.

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Community “Heartbroken” After Washington Budtender Found Deceased, Two of Three Suspects in Police Custody

A budtender from Lucid Cannabis Company in Cheney, Washington has been found deceased after being abducted.

(Photo: Sofia Jaramillo, Leafly)

Cameron Smith’s body was discovered by Spokane County Rescue just off State Route 904 west of Cheney, on September 15 around 3 p.m., states Leafly. Police described the location of Smith’s body as being “concealed in heavy cover” several feet from the roadway. This was near where authorities last made contact with Smith’s cell phone and slightly south of where his vehicle was located.

According to Stacia Shirley, manager at Lucid, says the team is “heartbroken” from the news. “We’re just trying to push forward with a strong face, and that just shows what a strong influence he was on us. He would want us to stay strong,” she says.

36-year-old Donovan Culps was apprehended on Thursday in 240 miles south of Cheney in Goldenbale, which is close to the border of Washington and Oregon. Culps was arrested after leading police on a chase and eventually crashing into a tree. He is currently in Klickitat County Jail awaiting charges of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and first-degree murder.

Law enforcement also apprehended Alisha Jackson, 18, who was presentduring the abduction. A suspect, 18-year-old Violetta Culps, has yet to be apprehended.

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Federal Bill Introduced to Eliminate Mandatory Minimum Sentences for all Drug Offenses

Legislation to end mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offenses has been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The legislation – H.R. 3800 – was introduced by Representative Maxine Walters, a Democrat from California’s 43rd legislative district. It would end the practice of applying mandatory minimum sentences to offenses involving illegal substances. Mandatory minimum sentences require judges to give offenders a specific – and typically harsh – sentence regardless of extenuating circumstances.

Mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes was greatly scaled back under President Obama’s terms as president. However, current President Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently reversed much of the changes made by the Obama Administration regarding mandatory minimums, making Representative Walters’ proposal incredibly important and relevant to the times.

Walters’ proposal would apply to all illegal substances located on the federal controlled substances list. According to, the measure has been “Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.”

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