Research Shows Medical Marijuana Legalization in New Mexico Has Reduced Opioid Use


In 1978, New Mexico became the first state to pass legislation that recognized the medical benefits of marijuana. Almost three decades later in 2007, a bill was passed that legalized marijuana in the state for medicinal use. Before signing the bill, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson expressed to the media, “I don’t see it as being a big issue…This is for medicinal purposes, for…people that are suffering. My God, let’s be reasonable.”

Research Shows Using Medical Marijuana Reduces Opioid Use

Ten years later, New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is still going strong. In the past decade, there have been several research studies that have highlighted the countless medical benefits of cannabis. One of the most recent studies to date that took place in the Land of Enchantment shows that marijuana legalization in New Mexico has reduced opioid use.

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have found that there is a strong indication that the availability of medical marijuana is linked to a decrease in using opioids for chronic pain. Associate psychology professor Jacob Miguel Vigil and assistant economics professor Sara See Stith recently published what they found in PLOS ONE, a journal that accepts “scientifically rigorous research.”

In their research, Vigil and Stith found that a large number of medical marijuana patients replaced opioid medication with cannabis. They tracked 37 patients that habitually used opioid prescription medication to ease symptoms of chronic pain.

Conclusions of the 21-month study found “clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP (Medical Cannabis Program) enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life.” They called for further investigations on marijuana as a potential alternative to prescription opioids.

Several Studies Highlight Opioid Reduction Using Medical Cannabis

This isn’t the first study to highlight how medical cannabis can cause people to decrease the amount of opioids they take to manage pain. A study released in June 2017 found 93 percent of people prefer cannabis over opioids for pain management. Other studies have shown that medical cannabis can even reduce withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to opioids.  

With the country in the midst of an opioid epidemic that has destroyed countless lives, cannabis could be exactly what is needed to reverse it. The latest findings from New Mexico only further reiterate how powerful medical marijuana is…and how important it can be in saving people’s lives.