Medical marijuana patients and advocates tout the many benefits of cannabis as a therapeutic treatment option for various diseases, but support from the medical community is hard to find, even in many states where medical marijuana is legal, due to the lack of sufficient clinical research. Now, doctors in Massachusetts are issuing and supporting the use of medical marijuana as a substitution for opioid medications, helping to legitimize the medical marijuana movement. Opioid addiction is now considered an epidemic in the United States, and Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs says, "As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance - and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting - I think it would dramatically impact the amount of opioid deaths."
Dr. Witman works to ween patients away from opioids, muscle relaxers, or anti-anxiety medication, and in his one-month tapering programs he has witnessed a 75% success rate in getting his 80 patients to stop taking harder medications. Witman says not only is cannabis as effective in treating the same symptoms opioids target, like chronic pain or anxiety, but it is also a far safer option. Other doctors has witnessed similar success, saying their patients have been able to decrease, and at times completely eliminate, their opioid use and substitute it for cannabis as a treatment option with a wider safety margin. While medical marijuana is a promising contender in the fight against opioid addiction, doctors remind patients seeking to effectively substitute marijuana for opioid medications to maintain followup visits with their doctors.
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