Wider Use Of Cannabis Therapy Could Reduce Prescription Pain Drug Deaths

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 3, 2012

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

    Physicians who prescribe opioid drugs to patients with neuropathy (nerve pain) ought to consider recommending cannabis as an alternative therapy, according to a peer-reviewed paper published online this week in the Harm Reduction Journal.

    “There is sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy for the use of (cannabis/cannabinoids) in the treatment of nerve pain relative to opioids,” the commentary states. “In states where medicinal cannabis is legal, physicians who treat neuropathic pain with opioids should evaluate their patients for a trial of cannabis and prescribe it when appropriate prior to using opioids. … Prescribing cannabis in place of opioids for neuropathic pain may reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications and may be an effective harm reduction strategy.”

    The author notes that between the years 1999 and 2006, “approximately 65,000 people died from opioid analgesic overdose.” By contrast, he writes “[N]o one has ever died from an overdose of cannabis.”

    In clinical trials, inhaled cannabis has been consistently shown to reduce neuropathic pain of diverse causes in subjects unresponsive to standard pain therapies.

    In November, clinical investigators at the University of California, San Francisco reported that vaporized cannabis augments the analgesic effects of opiates in subjects prescribed morphine or oxycodone. Authors of the study surmised that cannabis-specific interventions “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer [patient] side effects.”

    Neuropathy affects between five percent and 10 percent of the US population. The condition is often unresponsive to conventional analgesic medications such as opiates and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

    Full text of the paper, “Prescribing cannabis for harm reduction” is available online here.

    49 Responses to “Wider Use Of Cannabis Therapy Could Reduce Prescription Pain Drug Deaths”

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m in pain 24/7 and I have done and been on everything medically possible. All of my Doctors would like to see me be able to try medical marijuana but because of personal opinions Im left here to only suffer. Please NJ look at the facts and let people like me suffer no more!

    2. […] recently as January 2012, Goodlatte was responding to pro-pot constituents from the Roanoke area with this form letter (emphasis […]

    3. […] recently as January 2012, Goodlatte was responding to pro-pot constituents from the Roanoke area with this form letter (emphasis […]

    4. corley brean says:

      where can i get marijuana perscription at im from ohio and help with my pain

    5. […] illegal — even a media reporter mentioned the medical marijuana doctor that wrote his marijuana prescription “followed the new requirements that had just been passed by the legislature” — […]

    6. kennyjoede says:

      Congressman’s Response:

      Thank you for contacting me regarding the legalization of marijuana. I appreciate hearing from you.

      As you know, marijuana has been used in societies for thousands of years. Scientists over the years have learned much about the plant, including the usage of hemp for fiber and oil for cooking. However, scientists have also learned that the drug itself, when smoked, creates serious behavioral and psychological health risks. Studies have proven that the mind-altering effects of marijuana use have led to increased crime rates and an inability to function in society.

      The medical benefits of the drug are inconclusive at best. The most recent study by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine concluded in 1999 that plant material marijuana has no currently accepted medical use. In fact, there has been some evidence that use of marijuana may lead to the use of other harmful and addictive drugs. Therefore I oppose any effort to legalize marijuana. The proven harmful effects of the substance on the body and mind far outweigh any limited agricultural use or unproven medical benefits.

      You may also know that H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Act of 2011, was introduced by Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, and would limit the application of federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana.

      H.R. 2306 was introduced on June 23, 2011, and was referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce. No further action has taken place. As a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, rest assured I will keep your views in mind as this legislation is considered by Congress.

      I appreciate you taking the time to contact me. I feel it is important to keep an open line of communication so I can best serve the interests of the 6th District. I hope you will continue to be in touch as the 112th Congress debates issues of importance to the United States.

      Thanks again for the benefit of your comments. Please do not hesitate to be in touch if I can be of further assistance .

      Sincerely, Bob Goodlatte
      Member of Congress

    7. nelson says:

      im an adicct of codeine wwith prometh cough syrup,isthis true? cannabis can cure and adict to opiates,would back off the amnstinence sindrome?

    8. […] post was brought to you by NORML.org. This entry was posted in News by Dr. Giggles. Bookmark the […]

    Leave a Reply