Some narcotic analgesic medications have been known to decrease respirations, which lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood. Low levels of oxygen negatively affect consciousness, movement, and memory. In some cases, accidental overdoses can cause respiratory distress, which may have severe consequences. Although cannabis can impact consciousness, movement, and memory, it does not decrease respirations, which may imply that it is a safe alternative to narcotic painkillers. In fact, states with access to medical marijuana endured 25 percent fewer prescription drug overdose deaths each year compared to states where medical marijuana is illegal, according to findings published 08/25/14 in JAMA Internal Medicine. Many patients are able to safely use a combined therapy of prescription medications and medical marijuana to treat their chronic pain. If our evaluating physician recommends pharmaceutical intervention, you will not be required to discontinue using your medical marijuana.