Baby Boomers Choose Marijuana For Aches and Pains Instead of Prescription Drugs

cannabis for pain

By Jeffrey Green

Even if we stay in shape, eat right, do yoga and meditate, it’s still painful to get old.  It seems like every sports injury, car accident, slip on the ice, or other accumulated bumps and bruises seem to re-aggravate the older we get. Our quality of life depends on how effectively we manage that pain.

My 66-year-old father is one of the many baby boomers opting for medical cannabis instead of opioid painkillers. The man has literally tried everything legal to manage his pain with very little success. Some even caused side effects worse than the pain.

As much as I tried to convince him to smoke some weed with me, he refused to break the law. He’s always been a stickler for rules and morals. But even after it was legalized where he lives, he refused to partake. It wasn’t until a friend of his bragged about how much better his life is with medical cannabis, and about all the prescriptions he no longer needs, that my dad finally came around.

I hope by telling his story others will find the courage to overcome their programmed fears.

Now he’s vaping and experimenting with edibles because smoking a joint still “feels wrong” to him. Whatever. I’m just glad he’s taking a more natural route to managing his pain because it delivers a higher quality of life (pun intended). And it seems like he’s not alone.

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A new University of Georgia study found that prescriptions for drugs that could be replaced by medical marijuana “fell significantly” in states where it is legal.

In fact, Medicare saved an estimated $165.2 million in states with medical marijuana due to people abandoning opiate pain medications with harsh side effects for the more natural herb.

The abstract of the study states:

Using data on all prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013, we found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented. National overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending when states implemented medical marijuana laws were estimated to be $165.2 million per year in 2013. The availability of medical marijuana has a significant effect on prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D.

Although some of the best medical marijuana has intimidating names like Green Crack or Amnesia Haze, the potential negative side effects are practically non-existent. The most common side effects are occasional blissful napping and increased desire for snacking, hardly considered negative for most people.  Job performance and even operating machinery effectively do not appear to be affected by moderate cannabis use.

Several studies have concluded the following about driving under the influence of marijuana, “The results to date of crash culpability studies have failed to demonstrate that drivers with cannabinoids in the blood are significantly more likely than drug-free drivers to be culpable in road crashes.”

Washington Post just reported that Colorado has experienced near-historic lows in highway fatalities since marijuana legalization even though drivers have been testing positive for marijuana in higher numbers.

Washington Post points out:

It makes sense that loosening restrictions on pot would result in a higher percentage of drivers involved in fatal traffic accidents having smoked the drug at some point over the past few days or weeks. You’d also expect to find that a higher percentage of churchgoers, good Samaritans and soup kitchen volunteers would have pot in their system. You’d expect a similar result among any large sampling of people.

Meanwhile opioids continue to have devastating side effects, including death. Earlier this year, the CDC sound the alarm on opioids, “The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and overdose. Increased prescribing and sales of opioids—a quadrupling since 1999— helped create and fuel this epidemic.”

The study mentioned above is very timely because the government is passing new laws to attempt to reduce opiate painkiller abuse.  President Obama also just signed The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act which seeks to expand drug prevention, education and non-punitive treatment of addiction.

Passing “comprehensive” laws may not work nearly as well as legalizing medical cannabis on a national level.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is being forced to consider rescheduling cannabis from a Schedule 1 controlled substance due to its increasingly obvious medical uses.  Although the DEA is facing growing pressure to reschedule marijuana, it has recently delayed its announcement.

Regardless of what happens on a national level, this November you may have a chance to vote for legalizing cannabis in up to 12 states.

If you’re a baby boomer in states including Nevada, Florida, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona, Arkansas Michigan and few others, you may be getting access to a much better way to manage your pain than opioids.

Find out if your state is on this list to legalize and get out there and vote!

Photo credit: DonGoofy via / CC BY, modified by Editor

Jeffrey Green writes for Natural Blaze – see more of his work here

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