Study: Medical Cannabis Registrants More Likely To Cease Using Opioids Compared To Non-Participants

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

According to a new study published in the journal PLOS One, registered medical marijuana patients who use the medication to treat chronic pain are more likely to reduce or cease use of opioids compared to those who are not enrolled and suffer from similar pain conditions. Researchers from the University of New Mexico analyzed prescription use over the course of 21 months in 37 medical marijuana pain patients and 29 non-registered pain patients. They found 83.8% of medical marijuana patients reduced daily opioid use while 44.8% of non-registered patients reduced daily use. Additionally, 40.5% of medical marijuana patients stopped use completely, while only 3.4% of non-registered patients stopped use. Those who enrolled in medical marijuana programs also reported a better quality of life. The authors concluded, “The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain.”

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

American Legion Says One in Five Veterans Use Marijuana To Alleviate A Medical Or Physical Condition

Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret (https://bit.ly/2Pt2Flc)

Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret (https://bit.ly/2Pt2Flc)

The American Legion recently conducted a poll revealing one in five US Service Veterans use medical marijuana to provide relief for symptoms related to medical or physical conditions. Other notable data points include 81% of respondents who support federally regulated treatment, 60% of respondents did not live in states where medical marijuana is available, and that support for legal medical cannabis was not tied to political affiliations (across, the board, between 70-88% supported federally legalized medical cannabis regardless of political views). Of the respondents aged 18-30 years old, 100% supported federally legalized medical cannabis.

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Cannabis Use Inversely Associated With Fatty Liver Disease

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

Data published in PLoS One suggests adults who have used marijuana face a lower risk of suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than those who have not. Using a samily size of 22,000 adults, researchers from Stanford University in California and Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea assessed the relationship between marijuana use and NAFLD, and found cannabis use independently predicted lower risks of the condition, and that the effect was dose-dependent. This information supports the findings from previous studies. Researchers concluded, “Active marijuana use provided a protective effect against NAFLD independent of known metabolic risk factors… [W]e conclude that current marijuana use may favorably impact the pathogenesis of NAFLD in US adults.”

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Colorado’s Adult Use Cannabis Access Law Associated With Reductions In Opioid Deaths

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

There are various studies suggesting that the implementation of statewide medical marijuana programs can have a major impact in combatting the opioid crisis, but now studies suggest that even adult use access to recreational marijuana can also make a dent in the epidemic. The study, which was published in The American Journal of Public Health, involved a team of researchers from the University of North Texas School of Public Health, the University of Florida, and Emory University. By looking at the number of monthly opioid-related deaths that preceded Colorado’s adult use retailers against monthly opioid-related deaths after, they found that Colorado’s cannabis retail effectively reduced deaths related to opioid use. The researchers concluded, “Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado… Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths.”

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Medical Cannabis Registrants Reduce Their Prescription Drug Use

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

Investigators from the University of New Mexico have recently published data suggesting chronic pain patients enrolled in a medical marijuana program are better able to reduce their use of prescription drugs than those who abstain from cannabis use. The study, which was published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, analyzed the drug use patterns of 83 pain patients enrolled in a medical cannabis program and 42 patients who were not enrolled over the course of 24 months. Of those enrolled in the statewide medical marijuana program, 34% eliminated their prescription use by the end of the study, and 36% reduced their use of other medications. On average, registered medical marijuana patients significantly reduced their prescription medication intake, while non-registrants did not.

Authors concluded, “Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations… [A] shift from prescriptions for other scheduled drugs to cannabis may result in less frequent interactions with our conventional healthcare system and potentially improved patient health.” This study supports similar findings from previous studies.

This study has been brought to you by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can also find the abstract here.

Study: History Of Marijuana Use Associated With Decreased In-Hospital Mortality In Trauma Patients

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

According to information published in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, patients who are hospitalized for trauma and test positive for marijuana at the time of admission are more likely to survive than age-matched controls. Researchers from the University of Arizona looked at the in-hospital mortality rates of 2,678 patients over the course of five years, of which 1,339 tested positive for marijuana and 1,339 tested negative. Authors determined, “Patients with a positive marijuana screen had a lower mortality rate (5.3 percent versus 8.9 percent) compared to patients with a negative marijuana screen. … Prospective studies with long-term follow up will be useful in answering many of the remaining questions surrounding the specific impact of marijuana on outcomes after trauma.”

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Yet Another Study Finds That Cannabis Use Is Not Independently Linked With IQ Decline

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

Some patients may desire the use of cannabis therapy for symptom management, but may fear its use will have a negative impact. Throughout years of cannabis prohibition, the plant has earned the reputation of harming one’s IQ, but yet another study has come out confirming cannabis does not produce such an impact. Longitudinal data published in the journal Addiction suggests cannabis use by teens is not independently associated with adverse changes in intelligence quotient or executive functioning. Investigators from the U.S. and the U.K. looked at whether or not marijuana use changed neuropsychological performance in a cohort of adolescent twins, and found cannabis use did not negatively impact the adolescent's’ cognitive performance. Rather, there was a negative impact due to “family background factors.”

They explained, “[W]e found that youth who used cannabis … had lower IQ at age 18, but there was little evidence that cannabis use was associated with IQ decline from age 12 to 18. Moreover, although cannabis use was associated with lower IQ and poorer executive functions at age 18, these associations were generally not apparent within pairs of twins from the same family, suggesting that family background factors explain why adolescents who use cannabis perform worse on IQ and executive function tests… Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”

These findings support previous studies that found cannabis use in adolescence does not have a negative impact on intelligence. This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.


Study: Patients Report Substituting Cannabis For Opioids, Other Pain Medications

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

According to data published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, patients are successfully substituting cannabis for opioids and other analgesics for the treatment of pain. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Kent State University looked at data from 2,897 self-identified medical cannabis patients, of which 97% of those who acknowledged using opioid medications within the past 6 months were able to decrease their intake with thanks to the use of cannabis. Ninety-two percent of respondents also claimed cannabis had fewer side effects than opioids, and eighty-two percent said medical cannabis provided better relief and symptom management. Of the participants who had taken nonopioid-based pain medications, 96% were able to reduce their usage after beginning cannabis use, and 92% claimed medical cannabis was the more effective option. Authors explained, “[M]ore people are looking at cannabis as a viable treatment for everyday ailments such as muscle soreness and inflammation. … [T]his study can conclude that medical cannabis patients report successfully using cannabis along with or as a substitute for opioid-based pain medication.”

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: CBD Administration Reduces Blood Pressure

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

According to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, oral CBD may be able to reduce blood pressure. The study, led by investigators from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, assessed the use of a single oral dose of 600 mg of CBD extract versus placebo in 9 healthy male volunteer subjects. CBD administration resulted in reduced resting systolic blood pressure and stroke volume compared to placebo, and its intake reduced blood pressure levels after exercise or in response to stress. While increased heart rate was observed after administration, but no adverse events were reported. Study authors concluded, “Our data show that a single dose of CBD reduces resting blood pressure and the blood pressure response to stress, particularly cold stress, and especially in the post-test periods. This may reflect the anxiolytic and analgesic effects of CBD, as well as any potential direct cardiovascular effects. … Further research is also required to establish whether CBD has any role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders such as a hypertension.”

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: No Increase In Problematic Cannabis Use Following Passage Of Medical Marijuana Laws

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

 

Those who oppose medical marijuana legalization often cite a fear that it will increase the problematic use of marijuana among those who do not need the medicine, but data published in the journal Addiction suggests this is not the case. Investigators from Columbia University assessed the cannabis use trends following the legalization of medical marijuana in different states and found “no significant change in the prevalence of past-month marijuana use among adolescents or young adults (those ages 18 to 25).” Additionally, there was no evidence to support the notion that legalization resulted in increased cannabis abuse or dependence in young people and adults. Less regulated medical marijuana programs were associated with more self-reported use by adults age 26 and older than in states with more regulations.

This information supports the findings of various studies conducted previously, and contradicts the speculation that medical marijuana laws increase the prevalence of cannabis use disorder among adults. This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

 

Review Identifies 140 Controlled Clinical Trials Related to Cannabis

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

There are seemingly endless claims that marijuana has medicinal properties, but many still doubt these benefits due to the fact they believe medical marijuana lacks substantial clinical and scientific research. While it is true that marijuana's schedule I status in the United States creates difficult hurdles for researchers who want to study medical marijuana, there is still extensive research supporting claims to its therapeutic properties. According to a new literature review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, a pair of German researchers have identified 140 clinical trials since the year 1975 that involved around 8,000 participants and looked into the safety and efficacy of cannabis or its cannabinoids.

Most of the literature involving cannabis or cannabinoids was geared towards the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain, and authors found 35 controlled studies involving 2,046 patients that used cannabis or cannabinoids for pain management. The National Academy of Sciences acknowledged the existence of "conclusive or substantial evidence" behind the efficacy of cannabis for chronic pain relief. Many studies have also assessed cannabinoids as anti-emetic agents or appetite stimulants, and the researchers found 43 trials involving 2,498 patients looking into these benefits. There were also 14 trials looking into cannabis or cannabis extracts for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Additionally, the researchers discovered several trials evaluating cannabis for Crohn's disease, Tourette's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other indication. 

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. Find the full text of the study here.

Study: Cannabis Often Substituted For Prescription Medications

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

New data published in the Journal of Pain Research has found adults have been substituting cannabis for their prescription medications. Researchers from Bastyr University Research looked at the frequency of drug substitution from a national sample of 2,774 self-identified marijuana consumers, and found 46% of respondents used cannabis as a substitute of prescription medications. They were most likely to use cannabis instead of opioids/narcotics (36%), followed by anxiolytics/benzodiazepenes (14%), and then antidepressants (13%). The substitution was more prominent among women and older respondents. Additionally, medical marijuana patients were four times more likely than non-medical cannabis users to make this substitution. Authors concluded this study contributes "to a growing body of literature suggesting cannabis, legal or otherwise, is being used as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly prescription pain relievers."

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. Click here to read the full study. 

Study: Medical Cannabis Use Associated With Improved Cognitive Performance, Reduced Use Of Opioids

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

Those who oppose marijuana legalization often argue that marijuana will interfere with ones cognitive function, but according to longitudinal data published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, this is not the case. According to the data. medical cannabis administration actually improves cognitive performance in addition to lowering levels of prescription drug use. Investigators from Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and McLean Hospital looked at how medical marijuana affected patients' cognitive performance over a duration of three months. The patients were either new to medical marijuana or had not used medical marijuana in at least a decade.

Researchers found there were no decrements in performance when they evaluated cognitive performance following the treatment in comparison to the baseline evaluations taken prior to treatment. In fact, researchers determined, "[P]atients experienced some improvement on measures of executive functioning, including the Stroop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test, mostly reflected as increased speed in completing tasks without a loss of accuracy.” Additionally, patients experienced improvements in depression and reduced their use of prescription medications. These assessments will continue over the course of a year.

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: Cannabis Inhalation Improves Parkinson’s Symptoms

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

Clinical data published in the European Journal of Pain suggests cannabis inhalation improves the associated symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Investigators from Tel Aviv University and the Rabin Medical Center in Israel surveyed the impact of cannabis exposure on motor symptoms and pain parameters for patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. They found cannabis inhalation improved symptoms 30 minutes after use, saying, "cannabis improved motor scores and pain symptoms in PD patients." Other trials have produced similar results, and of Israeli Parkinson's patients who receive medical cannabis for their symptoms, 90% have reported improvements in their motor function and pain. 

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Canada: Rising Popularity Of Medical Cannabis Among Veterans Associated With Declining Opioid Use

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

Opioid abuse and addiction is at an all time high, and studies suggest that the legalization of and increased access to medical cannabis can target this epidemic. We can further see evidence of the decline of opioid use thanks to cannabis by looking at the veteran population in Canada. According to federal data provided to The Globe and Mail, the increased use medical cannabis has been associated with a decline in prescription opiates and benzodiazepines. The records provided by Veterans Affairs Canada showed the number of veterans using benzodiazepines feel 30% between 2012-3016, and veteran use of opiates dropped 17%. At the same time, veterans seeking medical cannabis increased from less than 100 to over 1,700 patients.

This case study is small, but it remains consistent with other studies that suggest patients prefer to replace their prescription medications and opiates with medical cannabis. This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Survey: Pediatric Oncology Providers Favor Cannabis For Pediatric Treatment

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

Current research shows cannabis is a well tolerated and effective treatment option for treating a wide range of symptoms, including those caused by cancer and cancer treatments. While young cancer patients could benefit from this treatment option, many people are wary of the medication due to the potential negative side effects on children during their important development. Now, however, a survey presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2016 suggests more than nine in ten pediatric oncologists surveyed favor patient access to medical cannabis.

Over 300 of the 654 pediatric oncology providers from US cancer treatment centers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington completed the survey, of which 92% said they were "willing to help pediatric cancer patients access medical marijuana." Over a third of the participants also said cannabis therapy is "appropriate in the early stages of cancer treatment." Authors of the survey concluded pediatric oncologists presented "predominantly favorable attitudes toward medical marijuana use in pediatric cancer patients."

This information has been adapted from NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Opioid Abuse Rates Lower In Medical Cannabis States

Photo: NORML

Photo: NORML

There is now countless of information to support the idea that medical cannabis can combat the opioid epidemic and therefore reduce the rate of opioid overdose and fatalities. Now, there is yet another study to support this claim. According to data reported by the employee health benefits platform provider Castlight Health, rates of prescription opioid abuse are significantly lower in areas that have permitted access to medical marijuana.

Investigators analyzed anonymous prescription reporting data from over one million employees between 2011 and 2015, and found that within states that did not legalize medical marijuana, 5.4% of those who had opioid prescription also qualified as an abuser of the drug, meaning they did not receive palliative care, received greater than a 90-day supply of medications, and had a prescription from four or more providers. In states that legalized medical marijuana, only 2.8% of those who had a prescriptions qualified as opioid abusers.

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can also find full text of the study here

 

Medical Cannabis Access Associated With Decreased Opioid Use In Chronic Pain Patients

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

According to data published online in the Journal of Pain, chronic pain patients who can legally access medical marijuana use far less opioids. In a retrospective survey of 244 chronic pain patients qualified to consume medical cannabis and with access to a dispensary, investigators at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor found respondents likely substituted cannabis for opiates and claimed marijuana was more effective.

Investigators wrote, "Among study participants, medical cannabis use was associated with a 64% decrease in opioid use, decreased number and side effects of medications, and an improved quality of life. This study suggests that many chronic pain patients are essentially substituting medical cannabis for opioids and other medications for chronic pain treatment, and finding the benefit and side effect profile of cannabis to be greater than these other classes of medications."

This information supports the findings of various other studies on the use of cannabis for pain treatment and opioid replacement. According to the CDC, about 40 people in the U.S. die daily from opioid overdoses, so these results bring welcomed news, pointing to a safer future in pain treatment. This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: Long-Term Cannabis Use Associated With Improved Pain Relief, Reduced Opioid Use

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

According to data published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, the long-term use of cannabis on a daily basis improved analgesia and reduced opioid use in patients suffering from treatment-resistant chronic pain conditions. The Hebrew University in Israel study involved 176 patients who were unresponsive to conventional pain medications, and participants inhaled a THC-dominant cannabis strain daily for at least six months. About 66 percent of patients felt their pain symptom scores and their quality of life improved due to cannabis therapy. The patients' overall consumption of opioid drugs declined by 44 percent, and many participants completely discontinued their opioid therapy.

These results coincide with the results from a similar year-long Canadian study, in which patients experienced reduced pain and increased quality of life, as well as data suggesting medical marijuana laws in the United States have reduced opioid related abuse and fatal overdoses. This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can also see an abstract of the study here.  

Review: Cannabinoids Reasonable Option For Chronic Pain Treatment

Photo Credit: NORML

Photo Credit: NORML

A recent review of clinical trials published in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia explains cannabinoids are not only safe, but also effective in the treatment of chronic pain conditions. Looking at 26 clinical trials involving 1,364 subjects, researchers from the University of Montreal's Department of Anesthesiology determined cannabinoids effectively alleviated pain from neuropathy, musculoskeletal disorders, fibromyalgia, HIV, and other chronic pain conditions. The trials assessed pain management with the use of various cannabinoid preparations, whether it be with herbal cannabis, cannabis extracts, or synthetic cannabinoid agents. Similar to previous reviews, the authors wrote, "Overall, the recent literature supports the idea that currently available cannabinoids are modestly effective analgesics that provide a safe, reasonable therapeutic option for managing chronic non-cancer related pain and possibly cancer-related pain." 

This information has been provided by NORML and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can also find an abstract of this review here