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Study: Patients Report Substituting Cannabis For Opioids, Other Pain Medications

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 28, 2017

    medical_mj_shelfPain patients report successfully substituting cannabis for opioids and other analgesics, according to data published online in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

    Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Kent State University in Ohio assessed survey data from a cohort of 2,897 self-identified medical cannabis patients.

    Among those who acknowledged having used opioid-based pain medication within the past six months, 97 percent agreed that they were able to decrease their opiate intake with cannabis. Moreover, 92 percent of respondents said that cannabis possessed fewer adverse side-effects than opioids. Eighty percent of respondents said that the use of medical cannabis alone provided greater symptom management than did their use of opioids.

    Among those respondents who acknowledged having recently taken nonopioid-based pain medications, 96 percent said that having access to cannabis reduced their conventional drug intake. Ninety-two percent of these respondents opined that medical cannabis was more effective at treating their condition than traditional analgesics.

    Authors concluded: “[M]ore people are looking at cannabis as a viable treatment for everyday ailments such as muscle soreness and inflammation. … [T]his study can conclude that medical cannabis patients report successfully using cannabis along with or as a substitute for opioid-based pain medication.”

    The study’s conclusions are similar to those of several others, such as these herehereherehere, and here, finding reduced prescription drug use and spending by those with access to cannabis. Separate studies report an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid-related abuse, hospitalizations, traffic fatalities, and overdose deaths.

    Full text of the study, “Cannabis as substitute for opioid-based pain medication: patient self-report,” appears online here.

    11 Responses to “Study: Patients Report Substituting Cannabis For Opioids, Other Pain Medications”

    1. Anonymous says:

      Focus on the truth of medicinal and recreational benefits of marijuana and leave all of the regressive political ideals (that are not mathematically sound in nature relative to current society as a whole) to the side!!! Get smarter! Free your mind of ignorance! Rise up, biatches!

    2. Julian says:

      Hear Hear, here and here!
      I LOVE these links. We can use them in our next lettor to our state and federal Congressman.

      But even better what this study represents is the power of the fairly taxed state regulated market… defeating the deceit of the unregulated federal market.
      We are voting with our dollars to purchase safe, effective clean whole plant cannabis. And remarkably even the most well funded deceptions to thwart marijuana reform are failing. The most extraordinary plant on earth, cannabis, has found a slow, coevolutionary way to safely and chemically save us from ourselves.
      Imagine by itself the immense and lethal investment from synthetic patented pharmaceuticals… only to have patients go out of their way to seek quality whole plant medical marijuana from another state? Consider the migration of marijuana refugees, or the citizen lobbying of those who would otherwise have no interest in state government, or indeed where their state capitol is located?

    3. Miles says:

      The Federal Govt trusts only those studies they funded for the sole purpose and intent to show the dangers of cannabis. They feel they have a need to be able to lock people up that they deem to be bad people; like hippies, blacks, and Mexicans for example.

      Attorney General Sessions believes that simply using cannabis, for any reasons, makes you a bad person and he would be happy to lock you up for many years for that sort of behavior.

      In the Trump administration they also want to be able to keep all of their private prisons filled to capacity; including the new ones they are planning to build… After all, the private prison industry has made big donations to Trump in the past.

    4. Mark Mitcham says:

      It’s true. When I got my medical marijuana card, the so-called “red card”, I was not taking opioids, except as prescribed for occasional dental work. But I took over-the-counter pain relievers on a regular basis, for all kinds of pain. But after getting my legal red card (as qualified by a physician, and a private medical matter), I have noticed that my use of these common pain relievers went way down, without any conscious decision by me to do so — I just don’t need them as much or as often. I believe this is because cannabis is really good for “nerve pain” by which I mean the random jets of severe pain that can torture your back, your joints, your neck, etc after a hard day’s physical work, especially for geriatric workers. Before my red card, I treated these type of pains with over the counter stuff. But cannabis is the best first line of defense.

    5. eric johnson says:

      Cannabis criminals in Illinois are denied (4life) medical treatment in the form of medicinal cannabis…does anyone at your org. give a flying fuck?…I often wonder?

      • Julian says:

        If you click on the green ACT tab on this webpage you’ll find all kinds of state marijuana reform legislation to contact your state legislators about, like this one for hemp:

        http://act.norml.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=20699

        Unfortunately legalization got tabled this session because not enough advocates contated their state Representatives. If only the millions who visit this webpage would stop blaming NORML.org and click on the Act tab… I wonder…

    6. Joe Linville says:

      I fell 25 feet at work in 1985, I fractured my spine( 50% compression fracture) along with a lot of nerve damage. I have been on a steady diet of every opiate known to man! I’m fused 4 levels lumbar & on 3rd set of rods & screws, plus fused 3 levels in cervical spine!
      Thank god I am a VA eligible , butt like a everyone else doing pain management they started mandatory drug screens.
      I had used marijuana for years for pain control & it worked well. I cut my opiate use down to 3-4 Vicodin 10/325 a day considering before I was on a lot of moriphine which made me a vegetable. Well I had to quit using marijuana in order to get my opiates. That was3 years ago-I am on fentanyl 75 microgram patches + 4 15 mg OxyContin pills a day & since I consume this nearly fatal levels of drugs each day the VA gave me a pair of naloxone auto injectors at the low cost to them of $5000.00 dollars, & there only good for a fixed time. That’s a lot of money because there’s a chance of overdose!
      I had a life I did things I was socially involved when I took less pills & smoked marijuana. Now I am a veg again I barely can function let alone my attitude or outlook on life is scary!
      Please pass medical marijuana I need it & so do a lot of brothers in arms!
      Weed is the best pain medication available! No side effects great relief!

    7. Hi Paul. Mostly, cannabis is chosen over opioids for pain medication. Isn’t it?

    8. Heather says:

      These discoveries are really providing evidence that cannabis would provide much more help at a lower risk than opioids. Hopefully this will also do away with the stigma against cannabis as well.

    9. Jonathan says:

      I have stopped using opioids after almost 20 years of use due to a spinal injury with 2 surgeries and major infection in spine and resulting pain. I worked with my doctor to reduce the prescribed medications(OxyContin, morphine, Butranz patches and a BUNCH of different pain relievers). I told him that I was going to start using cannabis when I got accepted as a medical cannabis patient. In the last 3 years, since stopping opioids, I have not had any desire nor need. I have learned which strains work for me and use edibles to extend the time of relief. Granted the pain is still there, BUT it is not the focus of my mind, rather the other things in life have become more enjoyable.

      Our government needs to reduce the classification of cannabis from a schedule 1 to a lesser constrictive schedule and then allow the patients that can use the cannabis to help reduce the addiction in the opioids that are being abused at all levels.

      I will remain an outspoken advocate of medicinal cannabis for pain relief, depression, eating disorders and other medical problems suffered everyday, needlessly, by people in the world. The stigma of “stoners” will pass when people realize that there are many people who use medical cannabis daily and lead productive lives even though governments have oppressive laws and rules.

      The benefits of medicinal cannabis are coming out as the plant and its parts get studied and the results are published in respected medical journals.

      Schedule reduction is the first step the government needs to do to help the needless suffering of pain and opioid addiction…

    10. Lain Ruth says:

      Cannabis IS saving the lives of people suffering from addiction!
      If you are looking for support, there is an online peer support group called Marijuana Maintenance in Recovery (www.mmrecovery.org). MMR is a non-judgemental community of people using cannabis as a form of harm-reduction therapy for their substance abuse/dependence. We shares personal experiences, swap educational information and provides support through peer support programs.
      You can join the Facebook support group here:
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/gogreengetclean420/

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