Study: Medical Marijuana Could Save Medicaid $1 Billion

It's undeniable that cannabis is a medication. It is, however - perhaps undeservedly - on the nation's Controlled Substances Act, the rundown of America's most risky medications. 

The vast majority of drugs are classified as pharmaceutical. In the 28 states where therapeutic cannabis is legitimate, so is just regular cannabis. In those 28 states, something fascinating has occurred over the previous decade: people on Medicaid filled fewer prescriptions. According to a new study, the amount of prescriptions filled by this group declined to such a degree, that if medical marijuana were available in all 50 states, it’s estimated that Americans would save over $1 billion on Medicaid costs.

Today, it’s widely known that marijuana is beneficial for a vast array of illnesses and conditions, including those related to aging as well as those that involve acute or chronic pain. Often in these last two instances, a physician will prescribe a regime of pharmaceutical drugs that involves some type of sedative.  =

In an effort to determine the degree to which cannabis flower, CBD oil and other derivatives could supplement or replace pharmaceutical medicines, analysts from Health Affairs looked at medical information from Medicaid programs in the U.S. from between 2007 and 2014. In five of the nine clinical cases reviewed, it was shown that fewer pharmaceutical prescriptions were filled in areas where cannabis was available.  

It’s interesting to note that the originators discovered a decrease of 13% for drugs used to treat dejection, a 17 % decrease for those used to treat queasiness, and a 12% decrease for those used to treat psychosis, among other symptoms studied. 

This research compiled data from medical services programs subsidized by Medicaid.  It’s estimated that around 20% of Americans are on some form of Medicaid. Some sources put the figure for the aggregate reserve funds for physician endorsed Medicaid costs at a few billion. 

Many marijuana advocates are aware that the medicinal cannabis programs available in the U.S. today very greatly. Some opponents of medical marijuana feel that it’s too easy to acquire. They don’t view Tylenol or sedatives - which can have side effects or cause an overdose - as a greater threat than marijuana. A large number of the  states in which medical marijuana is legal, have strict guidelines for qualifying conditions and access.  For instance, in New York, medical marijuana, though legal, is somewhat difficult to obtain. It seems to be a valid argument that if cannabis were as easy to buy as over-the-counter medications, Medicaid costs would be considerably less. 

This information comes at a crucial time for Medicaid in America. Big Pharma is the arch enemy of medical marijuana. The industry could be greatly impacted, should medical marijuana become mainstream across the U.S.  Insys Therapeutics, an advertiser for a potential overdose-inciting fentanyl-construct sedative,  is developing an engineered weed pill. It seems counterintuitive to create a synthetic for a substance that already exists naturally and has been shown to be beneficial in countless studies and bodies of research.   The Medicaid dollars that are spent on “solutions” add up to an appropriation to pharmaceutical organizations.