New Study Says Medical Cannabis Could Save Medicaid (USA) $1Billion

20 April 2017

The Washington Examiner reports

Medical marijuana prescriptions could have saved Medicaid $1 billion on prescription drug costs if it were legal nationwide, according to a new study.

The study comes as the Trump administration is aiming to clamp down on state legalization of recreational pot. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently said that the benefits of medical marijuana are overhyped. Currently 28 states and the District of Columbia have some type of medical marijuana law.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs Tuesday, was intended to examine whether patients are subsituting medical marijuana for prescription drugs and looked at all Medicaid prescriptions from 2007 to 2014 in states with medical marijuana laws.

Researchers found that total Medicaid savings associated with the laws ranged from $260.8 million in 2007 to $475.8 million in 2014.

Overall, Medicaid spent just under $23.9 billion for prescription drugs for 2014, meaning medical marijuana saved about 2 percent of costs.

Researchers estimate that if all 50 states adopted medical marijuana, Medicaid would have saved $1 billion in prescription drug spending in 2014.

Full report

Here’s the information at the Health Affairs site

Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Prescription Medication Use In Medicare Part D


Author Affiliations

  • 1Ashley C. Bradford is a master of public administration student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia, in Athens.
  • 2W. David Bradford ( is the Busbee Chair in Public Policy in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia.
  • *Corresponding author


Legalization of medical marijuana has been one of the most controversial areas of state policy change over the past twenty years. However, little is known about whether medical marijuana is being used clinically to any significant degree. 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.

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