Legalizing medical marijuana is controversial. Physicians have not always prescribed controlled substances wisely, as a look at our narcotic epidemic confirms. But marijuana is much safer than narcotics and, according to a recent study, might even save us money, by reducing people’s need for other, often more expensive medications.
Most notably, marijuana can be an effective part of comprehensive pain management. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain, caused by a wide range of disorders—inflammatory arthritis, irritable bowel, metastatic cancer, to name a few. Many medications used to manage such pain are expensive and carry substantial risk of substantial side effects (see above—re: narcotic epidemic). Marijuana can help alleviate pain, thereby reducing the need for those other medications.
The number of pain medications, in particular, is substantially reduced: