Is Medical Marijuana the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic?

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Fatal overdoses from opioid abuse have hit an all time high. The problem has hit pandemic levels in the United States, but the problem is a large concern globally. Opioids are highly addictive prescription drugs used to relieve pain, and they do so by reducing the intensity of pain signals that are sent to the brain and other receptors throughout the body. The drugs produce addictive side effects like drowsiness, relaxation, and euphoria, but they also have adverse side effects, like slowing the breathing process which can causes hypoxia and induce a coma, permanent brain damage, or a potentially fatal overdose. Countless clinical studies suggest patients who are prescribed opioids are able to reduce and replace their opioid use with Medical Marijuana. So, is medical marijuana the answer to the opioid epidemic? 

Similar to opioids, marijuana has analgesic effects, making it an effective painkiller. The cannabinoid THC works with pain receptors throughout the body in order to reduce pain levels. Marijuana is far safer than opioids, however, because it is less addictive, has fewer side effects, and there are no confirmed cases of marijuana causing deadly overdoses. In clinical studies in which patients replace their opioids with medical marijuana, they do not report experiencing nausea or a loss of appetite, and they are able to function normally without the narcotic-induced haziness. Some patients not only reduced their opioid use, but successfully weaned themselves off of the narcotic thanks to medical marijuana. A study at Columbia University found when patients were given a form of THC, their withdrawal symptoms were less severe and they were more likely to stay in rehabilitation in order to complete their course of treatment and successfully wean off of their opioids.

This information has been brought to you by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.