Marijuana is a money-making industry, with dispensaries, tourism, and cannabis culture spreading across states like Colorado and Washington. Now that time has passed, some pretty empowering trends are starting to emerge in the data, particularly when it comes to the ways in which medical marijuana intersects with public health and wellness programs.

Medical Marijuana and Medicare

An article published by NPR highlights the correlation between legalized marijuana and the decline in prescriptions for Medicare members, or individuals over age 65. States that have legalized medicinal marijuana see many older adults turn to cannabis for certain ailments, which is often the cheaper options over prescription medications.

Twenty-five states and Washington DC have legalized medicinal marijuana (and more are voting on the measure this November). The study reports that Medicare saw $165 million in savings in 2013 alone. If every state legalized medicinal marijuana, the program could save $470 million. This is almost half of the entire program’s expenditure. Cannabis could literally cut Medicare prescription spending in half if it is legalized in all 50 states.

 

The proof is in the proverbial pudding

We all know stats are misleading, though, and there are some nuances. The prescriptions people are leaving behind for marijuana tend to treat certain types of ailments, including “anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity.” People are also paying for cannabis out of their own pocket since it isn’t a covered prescription under Medicare, which also amplifies the dollar amount saved by the program. The take-away, however, is that older adults are finding relief in natural ways, and this is something to celebrate.

Medical Marijuana is the answer

Marijuana is truly the gift that keeps on giving. And for what it’s worth, it’s nice to know that those who witnessed the Great Depression, WWII, and the Soviet Union get to experience the lightness that cannabis brings. Maybe call your grandparents, send them this article, and see if they want to get stoned at Thanksgiving this year. Just don’t call them ironically at 420 because they will likely be at dinner.

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