For decades the pharmaceutical industry has poured millions into the pockets of corrupt politicians as they lobbied to keep cannabis illegal. A new study from the University of Georgia shows exactly why all that money was spent. Legal marijuana destroys big pharma’s profits.
The study examined the costs of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit program in 2013, a year when only 17 states and the District of Columbia had legalized medicinal marijuana. They found that legal pot contributed to a savings of $165.2 million in prescription costs. Researchers at the University of Georgia used those number to determine a savings in the hundreds of millions if all states would legalize medical cannabis.
According to the study, compared to Medicare Part D’s 2013 budget of $103 billion, those savings would have been 0.5 percent. But it’s enough of a difference to show that, in states where medicinal marijuana is legal, some people are turning to the drug as an alternative to prescription medications for ailments that range from pain to sleep disorders.
“The results suggest people are really using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes,” said the study’s lead author Ashley Bradford, who completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology in May and will start her master’s degree in public administration at UGA this fall.
The estimated savings are likely far higher as the study narrowed down the results to only include conditions for which marijuana might serve as an alternative treatment, selecting nine categories in which the Food and Drug Administration had already approved at least one medication. These were anxiety, depression, glaucoma, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity.
The study also brought up the lack of availability in states with legal medical pot. Patients, according to the study, can’t walk up to their neighborhood pharmacy to pick up a marijuana prescription; they have to either go to a dispensary or grow it themselves—and the legality of having marijuana plants differs by state.
If marijuana was as readily available as say, Prozak, one could imagine the damage it would do to Big Pharma.
The University of Georgia’s study is unique in that it looked at Medicare expenditures. However, another survey conducted by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC also helps explain why Big Pharma is so afraid of cannabis.
The survey of 473 adult therapeutic cannabis users found that 87% of respondents gave up prescription medications, alcohol, or other drugs in favor of cannabis. Adults under 40 were likely to give up all three of these for medical cannabis.
The most startling revelation, and one that will have Big Pharma running to their crony lawmakers, is that 80% of respondents reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs.
In addition, 52% said they substituted cannabis for alcohol and 32% said they substituted it for illicit substances. These results indicate a very promising trend of people moving away from dangerously addictive and deadly substances in favor of a miracle plant that has never caused an overdose death.
“The finding that cannabis was substituted for all three classes of substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and may have implications for abstinence-based substance use treatment approaches. Further research should seek to differentiate between biomedical substitution for prescription pharmaceuticals and psychoactive drug substitution, and to elucidate the mechanisms behind both.”
As The Free Thought Project has reported before, the U.S. is in the midst of a painkiller epidemic, with overdose deaths skyrocketing as Big Pharma has secured its grip on government and mainstream medicine. Opioid painkillers and heroin have driven overdose deaths to the point where they are now the leading cause of fatal injuries in the U.S. Alcohol is also killing Americans at a rate not seen in 35 years.
The results of this survey confirm that cannabis is the answer to all of these problems.
We are just beginning to confirm the benefits of cannabis on other conditions such as anxiety which is normally treated with pills such as Xanax, insomnia which is normally treated with pills such as Ambien, and antidepressants which are treated with pills such as Zoloft. All of these prescription drugs can cause debilitating addiction or severe side-effects.
Although the war on drugs put a stop to medical cannabis research for decades, in recent years we have seen a surge in studies being performed, as prohibition crumbles and the Schedule 1 classification of “no medical benefit” is exposed as a farce.