Medical cannabis therapy is associated with a reduction in prescribed opiate use among chronic pain patients, according to recent data published in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. This could be an important development in terms of pain management, drug use and risk of opioid dependence.
Israeli researchers have evaluated the evolution of opioid use prescribed by pain patients over six-month periods immediately before and immediately after their initiation of medical marijuana treatment. In line with other studies reviewed by NORML, they reported that patients “filled fewer opioid prescription drugs at baseline compared to baseline.”
The team of authors concluded that, “Medical cannabis may be linked to a significant but small reduction in opioid-prescribed medications.”
Opioid dependence is a national epidemic
Studies have consistently identified reduced levels of opioid use among pain patients initiating cannabis therapy. Controlled studies have also documented that co-administration of both healthy plant cannabis and oral THC with opioids increases its analgesic effects – even at subclinical doses.
Extremely low doses of a substance like cannabis, which is discussed in Chris Conrad’s revolutionary work, Hemp for Health, are called homeopathic or “micro” doses. For many years, such low doses have been derided as essentially a placebo effect, but in recent times researchers have validated the effectiveness of micro dosing.
The full text of the study, “Objective of Opioid and Health Care Services in Medical Cannabis Patients with Chronic Pain: A Prospective Study,” appears in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Further information on the relationship between cannabis and prescribed analgesics is available from the NORML factsheet, ”Relationship between Marijuana and Opioids.»