In Canada, opioid laws are falling after hashish is legalized

The legalization of cannabis in Canada, a landmark move for the country, resulted in a decline in opioid prescriptions nationwide, according to a recent study by the University of Toronto published in Applied Health Economics and Health Policy on Opiate Prescription Rates.

“Recreational cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, improving access and reducing the stigma associated with its use to treat pain,” the study’s abstract explains in an overview of the results. “This study assessed total opioid prescribing volumes and total spending before and after cannabis legalization.”

Opioid prescriptions before and after cannabis legalization

The study specifically looked at how many opioids were prescribed in Canada before and after legalization and how much money was spent on opioids. The observed period was January 2016 to June 2019, and all data are from this time span.

“Total monthly opioid spending also fell more sharply after legalization (Can $ 267,000 versus Can $ 95,000 per month),” said the study, referring to the link the study found. “The results for private drug plans were similar ;; The absolute decrease in opioid use was more pronounced (76.9 vs. 30.8 mg / claim). In the 42 months, the consumption of gabapentin and pregabalin also decreased.”

“Consistent with results from other environmental studies, the researchers found that legalization of cannabis coincided with a significant decrease in the levels of opioids prescribed in Canada.” The official report on the results of the study concluded.

During the period the data was collected, the researchers compared the rate of opioid prescriptions logged in the medical system before and after the legalization was completed and found an overall decline in opioid prescriptions. It tracked this decline and noticed a particular pattern.

“The results of this 42-month time series analysis showed a steady and significantly consistent decrease in the mean and mean MED [morphine equivalent dose] per claim for public payer drug plans. However, when comparing the pre-legalization and post-legalization periods, the decrease in mean MED per application over the post-legalization period was about 5.4 times higher (22.3 versus 4.1 mg per application). Additionally, prior to October 2018, the monthly reduction in opioid spending by public payers averaged $ 95,000 per month [when adult-use sales were legalized] compared to Can267,000 per month after cannabis legalization. Similar results were seen with private drug plans. … The results of this study add to the growing evidence that easier access to cannabis for patients in pain can reduce opioid use and partially offset spending on public and private drug plans. “

“Our results support the hypothesis that easier access to cannabis for pain can reduce opioid use for both public and private drug plans,” the study explained of the significance of the results. In other words, if opiates aren’t the only option, they aren’t always necessary.

While there is no guaranteed link between the decline in opioid prescriptions and the legalization of cannabis, it can be assumed that with the increasing adoption of recreational cannabis for pain management, opiate prescriptions have not been as popular.

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