Is Marijuana the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic?

Photo Credit: David Kessler/Flickr (http://bit.ly/2oEWqwG).

Photo Credit: David Kessler/Flickr (http://bit.ly/2oEWqwG).

We are living in the midst of an opioid epidemic. In Ontario alone, according to a 2014 issue of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, annual deaths from opioids have risen 242% between 1991 and 2010, with 127 opioid related deaths occurring in 1991 and 550 occurring in 2010. Now, research is mounting suggesting medical marijuana may be the answer to this epidemic. Research from the University of Georgia suggests medical marijuana may treat depression and pain in senior citizens, one of the high-risk groups for opioid addiction. A 2014  study from the JAMA Internal Medicine observed that states that had medical marijuana laws implemented before 2010 had less opioid related deaths than states without medical marijuana programs by 25 percent. 

Medical marijuana allows patients to decrease or eliminate their use of opioids, which in turn reduces prescription spending under Medicare Part D. The cannabinoids in cannabis interact with receptors in the body without leading towards addiction, or more importantly, overdose and death. This allows patients to substitute medical marijuana for opioid medications without long-term burdens. THC not only interacts with pain receptors to manage pain symptoms, but it also can reduce side effects associated with painkillers like nausea and fogginess, making it equally important supplementing pain medications as it does in relieving pain itself.

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