The positives and negatives of a legal marijuana market are being debated across the U.S. as more states move toward legalizing the drug.
Proponents say that marijuana has been shown to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from a variety of ailments. The drug has also brought in a great deal of revenue in states where it is legal, giving the government more money to spend on public programs.
However, critics believe that legalizing marijuana will send a dangerous message to children and that prolonged use could have a negative impact on the public’s health. While both sides make valid points, new research showing that marijuana may actually reduce some of the U.S.’s drug problems could become a powerful talking point for those in favor of legalization.
Reducing Pain Pill Dependence
The National Bureau of Economic Research found that states that have legalized medical marijuana see fewer patients being admitted to rehabilitation facilities for addiction issues associated with pain medication.
Because marijuana is relatively easy to obtain for pain management, fewer people are resorting to illegally purchasing and using prescription-strength painkillers. In states where marijuana is available for medical treatment, the number of rehab admissions for pain pill addictions was 15 percent lower.
A Safer Alternative
Not only does marijuana give the public another way to deal with pain, many argue that the drug is a safer alternative to using traditional opioid-based pain medication.
Drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin and Methadone must be carefully monitored as there is a risk of fatal overdose. However, experts say it is nearly impossible to fatally overdose on marijuana, making it a safer pain-management alternative.