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Out With The Old, In With The New: State Agencies Seem To Prefer Marijuana Over Opioids

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Out With The Old, In With The New: State Agencies Seem To Prefer Marijuana Over Opioids

State agencies (except for the DEA) are becoming more positive about still-federally-illegal marijuana and more worried about widely accepted and used opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin instead.

A recent CDC report revealed that, while an increasing number of people in the United States are using marijuana, a smaller percentage of them are abusing it or depend on it. In a separate research note, the FDA issued a warning about the potentially deadly risks of combining anti-anxiety and/or sleep medications with prescription opioids.

The Decline In Mary Jane Abusers

A CDC report issued Thursday looked into marijuana use, abuse and dependency, and concluded that, while the number of users grew substantially over the past few years, the portion of Americans with abuse and dependency issues fell from 1.8 percent in 2002, to 1.6 percent in 2014. The drop was especially significant among teenagers (down 37 percent) and young adults (18 percent); on the other hand, patterns among adults did not change much.

Related Link: 10 Conditions That Could Soon Be Treated With Cannabis: From Menstrual Cramps To Autism

Among consumers who’d used marijuana in the past year, only 11.9 percent were abusers or dependent, versus 16.7 percent in 2002.

The Criteria

Respondents of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) were considered dependent on marijuana if they acknowledged "health and emotional problems associated with use, unsuccessful attempts to reduce use, tolerance, withdrawal, reducing other activities to use [marijuana], spending a lot of time engaging in activities related to use, or using [marijuana] in greater quantities or for a longer time than intended.”

Related Link: Harvard Explains The Health Effects Of Medical And Recreational Use Of Marijuana

On the other hand, surveyed people were considered marijuana abusers if they reported “problems at work, home, and school; problems with family or friends; physical danger; and trouble with the law because of [marijuana] use.”

Although Legal, Opioids Spell Trouble

It is no secret that America is undergoing an opioid abuse epidemic. And, people are becoming increasingly worried about the effects of drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin.

Earlier last week, the U.S. FDA issued a new warning on opioids. In this case, the agency cautioned patients and doctors about the potentially life-threatening implications of combining prescription opioids with anti-anxiety or sleep medications — a blend that doctors are increasingly commending.

Consequently, the FDA decided to require almost 400 products to include a "black box warning," which explains the risks of mixing them with other medications.

Related Link: Opioid Addiction: What To Do When A Loved One Is Hooked, According To Science

“The agency concluded that from 2004 to 2011, the rate of emergency department visits involving non-medical use of both drug classes increased significantly, with overdose deaths (from taking prescribed or greater than prescribed doses) involving both drug classes nearly tripling during that period,” the FDA’s press release read.

In addition, the number of patients prescribed both drug classes rose by 41 percent over the period.

Having said this, it should be noted that some medical conditions can be effectively treated with a combination of opioids and benzodiazepines. Therefore, the FDA created a guide to combining these two drugs without risking one’s health or life.

Some Stocks To Watch

Some of the companies that manufacture opioids include:

  • AbbVie Inc (NYSE: ABBV).
  • Purdue Pharma L.P.
  • Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT).
  • Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).
  • Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE).
  • Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE: NVS).
  • Endo International plc - Ordinary Shares (NASDAQ: ENDP).
  • Insys Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: INSY).

Some of the companies involved in the marijuana business/biopharma sector include:

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Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no interest in any of the securities or entities mentioned above.

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