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New study says medical marijuana can lead to cost-savings.

GOP platform and study combine for persuasive argument.

Legislators who want to expand the use of medical marijuana in Texas — as well as the green-seeking entrepreneurs who could benefit financially from more state-approved, pot-derived treatments for what ails Texans — might be able to lean on a new study to bolster their argument when the Legislature convenes in January.

State senators and Texas House members undoubtedly will be looking for ways to save money next session, especially since the price of oil has dropped into an abyss, taking with it much of the state’s oil-based tax revenue. They’ll cut programs. They always do. But they also will search for savings.

And when that time comes, lawmakers who are open to the idea of medical marijuana might want to look to the conclusions reached by Ashley Bradford and W. David Bradford, a student-and-professor team at the University of Georgia.

The Athens, Ga.-based duo found that places that allow medical marijuana have witnessed reductions in public money spent on prescribed drugs under Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit that’s paid for with state and federal dollars.

“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,” the Bradfords wrote.

The study authors say that if all states — not just the 24 states and the District of Columbia that already permit pot-based medicine — had allowed medical marijuana in 2013, then total spending on Medicare Part D would have been $468.1 million less, than if no states had adopted such laws.

They also concluded — and this is the part that would help the pro-medical marijuana voices in the Legislature — that “more widespread approval could provide modest budgetary relief.”

Sen. Kevin Eltife, who successfully piloted a bill through the process last session to allow for a marijuana-derived treatment for a rare form of epilepsy, said the new study could prove helpful next session for politicians looking to go beyond his measure.

“I don’t know how you ignore it,” he said.

The study represents just one justification for broadening medical marijuana in Texas.

Proponents also can cite the recently adopted policy platform by the Republican Party of Texas. The new GOP position calls for expanding the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine “the appropriate use of cannabis to prescribed patients.”

With shifting attitudes, pot proponents in the Legislature now enjoy support from the conservative base and an academic study demonstrating cost-savings from a state-sanctioned medical marijuana policy.

“That’s a pretty strong combination,” Eltife said.

Perhaps, it will be enough to persuade lawmakers to vote for such legislation and ignore the increasingly diminishing voices opposed to any movement toward legalizing marijuana.

Also, the study notes, the spending in public prescription drug programs could be shifted to private companies that will be legally allowed to sell marijuana-based medical products.

All of a sudden, it’s a pro-business stance, too.