Does Medical Weed lower Medicaid Drug Costs?

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A new study in Health Affairs looked at the effect medical marijuana has on prescription drug use in state Medicaid programs. It found positive correlation between states that have passed medical marijuana laws and lower Medicaid drug spending. Just over half of states (28) have pass some type of law that allows for medical marijuana. Researchers reviewed fee-for-service (FFS) drug utilization (2006 – 2014) in state Medicaid programs to compare states that allowed medicinal marijuana with states that did not.

Researchers looked at nine categories of prescription drug use and found FFA prescriptions were lower in five of the nine categories in states allowing Medical marijuana. Researchers estimate that if all states passed medical marijuana laws, the savings to the Medicaid program would save significant. They conclude:

If all states had had a medical marijuana law in 2014, we estimated that total savings for fee-for-service Medicaid could have been $1.01 billion.

The results are similar to a previous study by the same team. They believe medical marijuana would lower drug utilization in both the Medicaid and Medicaid population.

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