Informational Articles

1 in 3 Americans Would Use Medical Marijuana. Are You One Of Them?

medical marijuana

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Marijuana is steadily gaining traction as a legitimate treatment for everything from severe migraines to arthritis—so much so that a third of Americans would be extremely or very likely to use it to treat their pain if advised by a doctor, reveals a new Prevention survey.

Among the other compelling findings of the survey, in which Preventioninterviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,025 U.S. adults: 20% of Americans would be interested in a medical marijuana prescription if faced with ongoing pain, and 75% believe medical marijuana should be legal in the U.S.

It’s not just people desperate for pain relief who are embracing marijuana, however—the stigma is lifting in the medical community as well, in part because marijuana could help ease the country’s massive opioid problem. “Medical marijuana is not the most addictive of medicines nor the most dangerous, and it’s safer than many drugs in use. Plus, there are times when it can provide relief when little else does,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

According to the CDC, prescriptions for addictive opioid painkillers have nearly quadrupled since 1999, and 46 people now die every day from overdosing on the meds. But a recent University of Michigan study found that patients using medical cannabis to control chronic pain reported a 64% reduction in their use of opioids, and several studies have shown that the number of opioid overdoses is as much as 25% lower in states where medical marijuana is legal. (Read more on the science behind medical marijuana—and what happened when our writer tried it out herself—in the July 2016 issue of Prevention magazine!)

Still, there are some experts who are concerned about potential side effects and addiction, especially if patients don’t adhere to the recommended “start low, go slow” principles many doctors advise. Survey respondents shared these concerns, with 34% saying they are worried about side effects and 35% saying they don’t want to “get high.” Nearly half (47%) also said they don’t like to smoke anything.

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