Can Medical Marijuana Solve the Opioid Problem?

Photo Credit:  Brennan Linsley, Associated Press

Photo Credit: Brennan Linsley, Associated Press

Marijuana is a safer painkiller than its pharmaceutical opioid counterparts. With all of the information and research available supporting this claim, it may seem like common knowledge by now. Studies have shown medical marijuana is as effective as opioids in the treatment of chronic pain, and many patients prefer marijuana to opioids, allowing them to reduce their opioid dose and sometimes ween their way entirely off of the medication. In addition, medical marijuana is safer and less addictive than opioid medications that have to ability to cause fatal overdoses. Harvard Medical School's Dr. Kevin Hill, author of a study confirming the benefits of medical marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, MS, and seizure disorders, says, "You may end up in the emergency room, but you're not going to have a fatal overdose from marijuana."

This all might sound familiar, but there are other lesser-known ways that medical marijuana can help chronic pain patients. Greg Gerdeman, a pharmacologist and professor at Eckerd College in Florida, researches the endocannabinoid system and says medical marijuana can help pain patients in three ways: it dampens pain signals from the body to the brain, it turns down or prevents inflammatory responses, and it relieves "emotional pain" so that marijuana users think less about their pain. We remind you to journal daily, so that your anonymous information can show others how medical marijuana effectively treats your symptoms.

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