Codeine demand drops when cannabis is legal according to study

Codeine demand drops when cannabis is legal according to study

Across the USA, we’re seeing a trend that shows the legal use of cannabis within them is reducing the demand for prescription codeine as the country continues its battle with opioid addiction.


The study, published in Health Economics found a significantly reduced number of people seeking codeine prescriptions in states where cannabis is legal, in what is positive news during a period where the country suffers from 10,000 overdose deaths per year due to prescription opioid misuse.


Prescription drug addiction is a growing concern in the country, with rehab canters welcoming more patients than ever, as well as hospitals having to treat more patients due to overdoses and other issues as a result of opioid misuse.

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Of course, cannabis itself is addictive, but the potential for misuse and addiction is much greater in codeine, alongside the health concerns, and this report will surely see more states that haven’t legalised cannabis looking at the potential of it.


At present, 21 US states have passed bills for the recreational use of cannabis, and given it is having an effect on the number of people misusing opioids, it could be a real tactic for state officials to try and combat the ever-growing issue.


Shyman Raman, the lead author on the study said, “A reduction in the misuse of opioids will save lives.


“Our research indicates that recreational cannabis laws substantially reduce distribution of codeine to pharmacies, an overlooked potential benefit to legalizing recreational cannabis use.”


Key Findings Of The Study


Among the key findings of the study in those states that have legalised cannabis for recreational use, include:


  • A reduction in pharmacy based codeine distribution by 26%, rising to 37% in those states that have had cannabis laws passed for four years or more.
  • Minimal impact on distribution of other opioids, however, in any setting.
  • A minimal impact on codeine distribution in hospitals, which have stricter policies and regulations around the drug compared to pharmacies.


Many health professionals are considering it a useful finding and one that could aid public health, particularly when it comes to treating chronic pain.


Johanna Catherine Maclean of the George Mason University added on the study, “Increasing legal access to cannabis may shift some consumers away from opioids and toward cannabis.


“While all substances have some risks, cannabis use is arguably less harmful to health than the nonmedical use of prescription opioids.”

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