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Worried about rising Medicare Part D prescription costs and premiums? Changes in marijuana laws at the state level could help to stem that tide.

Legalizing the use of marijuana could actually decrease health care costs for seniors and the disabled on Medicare, in part because the use of medical cannabis can reduce dependence on opioids for treatment of chronic pain and other conditions. The availability of medical cannabis also has the potential to decrease the incidence of opioid addiction, which contributes significantly to subsidized medical costs.

Despite these potential advances, in many states marijuana use is still blocked, limited, or even denied for medical treatment. Much more research is needed, but at least the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration published a new policy in August 2016 that “increase[s] the number of entities registered under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to grow (manufacture) marijuana to supply legitimate researchers in the United States.”