Studies Confirm, Again, That Cannabis Reduces Opioid Use

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

In one of our recent posts, we discussed a survey coming from New Mexico, which found 80% of the 37 respondents enrolled in a medical marijuana program reduced their opioid use, and 40% stopped opioid use to use cannabis. Now, the preliminary results from another study conducted by private research firm Aclara in Illinois supports these results. In the study involving 400 Illinois patients, 67% stopped using opioids after enrolling in the state’s medical marijuana program. Additionally, 37% stopped using all conventional medications, and 60% reduced their use of prescription drugs and reduced their trips to the pharmacy. The study also reached out to 500 pharmacists in Illinois, and found 87% thought medical cannabis should be legal, and 69% thought pharmacies should have the ability to dispense the product. Carmen Brace, founder of Aclara Research, explains, “Patients are using cannabis, successfully, to wean themselves off opioid usage.” She continues to link the results of this study to one published in the Journal of Pain in 2016, in which chronic pain patients successfully reduced opioid use by 64%.

These studies are especially important in light of the opioid crisis, in which opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed. In one analysis from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2016, states that had implemented medical marijuana programs saw 25% fewer opioid-related deaths than states that did not have such programs. All of these studies point to the suggestion that cannabis can, in fact, fight the opioid crisis. This information has been provided by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

New Mexico Study Finds Medical Marijuana May Help Reduce Opioid Addiction

Photo Credit:  Flickr / frankieleon / CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Flickr / frankieleon / CC BY 2.0

A new study coming from New Mexico and published in the journal PLOS ONE can be added to the mounting support suggesting medical marijuana can combat the opioid epidemic. The study led by Dr. Jacob Miguel Vigil and Dr. Sarah See Stith looked at 37 chronic pain patients who used opioids habitually and enrolled in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program between 2010 and 2015, and found cannabis helped reduce opioid addiction in these patients. The researchers simultaneously looked at 29 patients who did not enroll in the medical marijuana program. Using the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, the researchers compared opioid record between the two groups over a 21 month period. Those who used medical marijuana were 17 times more likely to stop opioid use, and 5 times more likely to reduce their daily opioid intake. Daily dosage averaged at a 47% reduction through medical marijuana use. Those who chose not to enroll in the state’s program experienced a 10% increase in dosage. The researchers hope for more in depth, randomized, and placebo-based clinical trials moving forward.

This information has been provided by Marijuana Industry News and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

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.

Can Marijuana Help With Back Pain?

Photo Credit: WolfBlur/Pixabay

Photo Credit: WolfBlur/Pixabay

Marijuana’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties make it a potential candidate for reducing back pain. Currently, massages or chiropractic therapy, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications like opioids are used to treat back pain. There are many clinical trials that suggest cannabis could be a powerful treatment option for pain reduction. One study found patients who inhaled vaporized cannabis three times a day over the course of five days significantly reduced their chronic pain. Another review of six clinical trials found “high quality” evidence that cannabis could provide powerful pain relief. One study found 34 patients with treatment-resistant chronic pain cannabis extracts significantly improved pain management. Indeed, most patients in the U.S. and Canada cite chronic pain as their main reason for using medical marijuana. Researchers believe cannabis is able to combat pain by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and blocking pain signals from being sent to the brain.

At a time when opioids are seemingly overprescribed and the opioid epidemic is rampant, medical marijuana is a welcomed player in pain management. One survey found 97% of participants successfully decreased their use of opioids thanks to marijuana. and 81% found cannabis was more effective on its own at treating their condition. Another survey found 63% of 166 respondents enrolled in Canada’s national medical cannabis system substituted prescriptions with cannabis, and 32% attributed their substitution to fewer side effects and better symptom management.

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

Rates of marijuana, prescription opioid use higher among patients with cancer

Photo Credit: Health Mil

Photo Credit: Health Mil

A new study published in the journal Cancer has found rates of marijuana use have increased significantly among cancer patients, likely as a result of expanding cannabis access. The study looked at data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to study self-reported marijuana and prescription use trends between 2005 and 2014 among cancer patients and those without cancer, who were the controls. The survey involved 19,604 respondents between 20-60 years old. The 826 patients with cancer averaged 47.4 years old and were 66.7% women, and the 1,652 patients noncancer controls with similar propensity scores averaged 46.7 years old and 66% were women. Compared to controls, more patients with cancer reported using marijuana in the past year (40.3% in cancer patients vs 38% in controls) and current marijuana use (8.7% in cancer patients vs 6.6% in controls). Between the 2005 and 20014, marijuana use among cancer patients increased 118%, while there was only a 12.5% increase among the controls. It’s important to note that while opioid use increased among both cancer patients and controls, researchers calculated opioid use based on prescription access and did not account for potential abuse.

Those with cancer were also more likely to use prescription opioids than those without. Chief of the central nervous system tumor and liver tumor services at UC San Diego Health Jona Hattangadi-Gluth explains, “Medical marijuana legalization has previously been associated with a reduction in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse, suggesting that if patients are, in fact, substituting marijuana for opioids, this may introduce an opportunity for reducing opioid-related morbidity and mortality… Of course, it will also be important to identify risks and adverse effects of marijuana, which has not previously been studied in large randomized clinical trials, given it’s scheduling as a class 1 controlled substance.” He continues, “These data provide the first insight into marijuana and opioid use over time in people with cancer across the United States… Prospective clinical trials are needed to quantify the efficacy of marijuana in cancer-specific pain as well as the risk [for] opioid misuse in this patient population.”

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

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Can Lead to Decrease in Painkiller Abuse: Study

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

According to a new study conducted by a University of Georgia economics professor and published on SSRN.com, cannabis dispensaries coincide with a drop in opioid-related treatment admissions and drug mortality. The study analyzed the effect of medical cannabis dispensaries on drug treatment admissions, and found within two years of opening such businesses, there was a 20% relative decrease in painkiller treatments, and fewer drug-related deaths per 100,000 people. The author writes, “[T]he unintended beneficial effects of allowing for marijuana dispensary operations should be considered by policymakers as they aim to curtail narcotic abuse and limit the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Trauma Patients Report Marijuana Helps Reduce Opioid Use

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

According to a new study from Harvard Medical School which was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, patients who experience a musculoskeletal injury can effectively relieve pain symptoms and reduce their opioid use through the use of medical cannabis. In the survey, which involved 500 patients from a pair of orthopedic outpatient clinics, 90% of patients who reported using cannabis for recuperation within the past six months effectively reduced their pain, and 81% were able to reduce their use of opioids. Authors explained, “[I]n the subset of patients who used marijuana during their recovery, a majority indicated that it helped alleviate symptoms of pain and reduced their level of opioid intake.”

This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Yet Another Study Says Cannabis Can Curb Or Even Prevent Opioid Use

Photo Credit: Civilized

Photo Credit: Civilized

The idea that cannabis may be able to combat the opioid epidemic is nothing new, and now, yet another study is providing evidence that cannabis may be able to curb the crisis. A new study from British Columbia and published in the Harm Reduction Journal suggests medical marijuana can reduce or prevent opioid use, and offer those suffering from addiction an exit strategy. Author Philippe Lucas explains, “There’s a growing body of evidence that cannabis can be a safer substitute and play a harm-reduction role by reducing the use of prescription opioids, reducing the use of alcohol, and even reducing the use of tobacco and illicit substances… [Cannabis has] no chance of [fatal] overdose, far less of a chance of developing dependence, and you don’t have a lot of the similar side effects you do with opioids.” Next steps for Lucas including studying cannabis as an adjunct treatment for methadone and suboxone, in which half of participants will take opioid medications and the other half will take cannabis.

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

Topical Cannabis Preparations Associated With Reduced Opioid Use

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A series of case reports conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and published in the Journal of Pain Symptom Management has determined whole-plant cannabis extracts, when applied topically to ulcer wounds, is associated with reduced pain and opioid use in patients with leg and ankle ulcers resulting from Pyoderma Gangrenosum (PG). In all of the three patients who participated in the study, extracts containing equal parts THC and CBD effectively reduced pain and opioid utilization. Authors concluded, “This is the first case series to demonstrate the potential of TMC (topical medical cannabis) to provide effective analgesia that was opioid sparing in the setting of PG… TMC has the potential to improve pain management in patients suffering from wounds of all classes.”

A larger study is left to be desired to confirm these findings. This information has been brought to you by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study Shows Majority of Chronic Pain & Mental Health Patients Prefer Cannabis to Opioids

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

A new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy suggests chronic pain and mental health patients prefer cannabis to opioids. In the study, researchers surveyed 250 patients, of which 63% used cannabis in place of opioids, sedatives, and antidepressants. Patients who substituted cannabis for opioids and benzodiazepines, which were the two primary classes of drugs that were substituted, cited fewer side-effects, better symptom management, and a better safety profile as their top reasons for making the swap. This study has huge implications when it comes to battling the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation today. With fewer side effects and a higher safety profile, patients can feel more in control of effectively managing their symptoms without risking adverse side effects or overdose.

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

Majority of Pain Sufferers Prefer Cannabis to Opioids, Finds New Study

Photo Credit: K-State Research and Extension / FLICKR (https://bit.ly/2wmSvJC)

Photo Credit: K-State Research and Extension / FLICKR (https://bit.ly/2wmSvJC)

In a survey conducted by HelloMD in cooperation with the University of California Berkeley and involving 3,000 medical marijuana users, researchers found 97% of respondents either agreed or agreed strongly that medical cannabis allowed them to decrease their use of opioid painkillers. In addition, 92% of respondents agreed or agreed strongly that they preferred medical cannabis as a treatment option to their traditional medications. For 81% of respondents, cannabis alone was considered more effective than combining cannabis and opioids. Chief Medical Officer of HelloMD, Dr. Perry Solomon, hopes this study will "awaken the public, medical professionals and legislatures to the fact that cannabis is a safe, non-addictive product, available to help fight the opioid epidemic.”

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

Research Says Cannabis Helps Fight Addiction

Photo Credit: MassRoots

Photo Credit: MassRoots

Research is mounting suggesting cannabis can help fight addiction. One study published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) found states with legalized medical cannabis experienced 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rates than states where medical marijuana was illegal. Another study found states saw a sharp decrease in patients admitted for opioid abuse after legalizing medical marijuana. Patients also spent less on prescription drugs for depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, as a result of cannabis use. Researchers from the University of Montreal and the University of British Columbia found patients used cannabis to cope with crack cocaine addiction, and concluded, “Given the substantial global burden of morbidity and mortality attributable to crack cocaine use disorders alongside a lack of effective pharmacotherapies, we echo a call for rigorous experimental research on cannabinoids as a potential treatment for crack cocaine use disorders.”

Cannabis users and former heroin addicts are also more likely to complete their addiction treatment program than non-cannabis users. Lastly, cannabis can also combat addiction to legal substances like cigarettes and alcohol. One clinical trial found CBD helped patients reduce their cigarette use by 40% in comparison with patients who received placebo. Another study found 40% of medical marijuana patients were able to reduce their alcohol consumption. Authors call for a desire for more research, but say, “cannabis does appear to be a potential substitute for alcohol.” Additionally, cannabis may ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 

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

Study: Medical Cannabis Patients Report Decreased Use of Opioids, Anti-Anxiety Medicines

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

New self-reported data published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reveals patients who have access to medical marijuana decrease their use of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other medications. Investigators out of five states looked at the medical history of 1,500 patient-members of state-licensed dispensaries in the northeast and found 77% of respondents reduced their use of opioids after beginning cannabis therapy. Many respondents also decreased their use of anti-anxiety medications (72%), migraine-related medications (67%), sleep aids (65%), and anti-depressants (38%). Additionally, 42% of respondents reduced their use of alcohol. The findings of this study support the findings of previous studies regarding the effects of cannabis on opioids and other prescription medications.

This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

New Study Shows Accessible Medical Marijuana Helps Fight Opioid Addiction

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Valerie Monroy

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Valerie Monroy

According to data published in Reuters and the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, states that have adopted medical marijuana programs witnessed hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller abuse drop by 23%, and opioid overdoses dropped by an average 13%. Author of the study, Yuyan Shi, looked at hospitals in 27 states from 1997-2014, of which 9 of the states passed medical marijuana laws within that time frame. Those states that passed these laws saw a significant reduction in opioid related hospitalization. This study supports other studies that found similar results, like that of John Hopkins University in 2016 which found states with medical marijuana programs witnessed a 25% decrease in opioid-related deaths. 

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

Medical Marijuana Legalization Associated with Fewer Opioid-Related Hospitalizations

Data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggests statewide medical marijuana access reduces opioid-related hospitalizations. A researcher from the University of California at San Diego analyzed medical cannabis laws and opioid-related hospitalizations and found both immediate and long-term reductions in these hospitalizations following the implementation of such laws. The author reported, “This study demonstrated significant reductions on OPR- (opioid pain reliever) related hospitalizations associated with the implementation of medical marijuana policies. … We found reductions in OPR-related hospitalizations immediately after the year of policy implementation as well as delayed reductions in the third post-policy year.” The author also stated, “While the interpretation of the results should remain cautious, this study suggested that medical marijuana policies were not associated with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Instead, the policies were unintendedly associated with substantial reductions in OPR related hospitalizations.”

This information has been provided by The Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

New Study Finds Cannabis Helps Reduce Tobacco, Alcohol and Opioid Use

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

A new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy has found marijuana reduces the use of tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs, something that could have a large impact on the fight against addiction and the opioid epidemic. Researchers surveyed 271 registered medical marijuana patients and found 25% of people successfully stopped consuming alcohol, and 12% substituted marijuana for tobacco. More strikingly, the study found 63% of participants substituted cannabis for their prescription drugs. Specifically, 30% of patients used cannabis to replace their opioids, 16% used it to swap out benzodiazepines, and 12% used in in place of their antidepressants. The survey contained 107 questions about demographics and drug use patterns. The results support other findings pertaining to cannabis and addiction.

This information has been brought to you by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can find the full text of the study online on the International Journal of Drug Policy

Conditions Medical Marijuana Could Help

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Medical cannabis is full of chemical compounds called cannabinoids and terpenes that interact with the body's endocannabinoid system. The different concentrations of compounds allow the plant to have a wide array of different effects, which make cannabis suitable for many different conditions and symptoms, or even combat the side effects of other treatment regimens. For cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, cannabis can alleviate side effects associated with the treatment like fatigue, nausea, pain, loss of appetite, and insomnia. Similarly, HIV/AIDS treatment regimens produce similar side effects that can be alleviated by medical cannabis. 

Patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis experience neurological problems and muscle spasms. Medical Cannabis can help alleviate these symptoms, which can allow patients to gain control over their muscles, regain bladder control, improve vision and mobility, and thereby improve their overall quality of life. Cannabis can help those with epilepsy by reducing the frequency of seizures and even, at times, eliminating them all together. Studies have found CBD is an effective treatment option even in those who suffer from forms that had previously proven treatment-resistant. Chronic pain accompanies a wide range of conditions, but research has found cannabis can be as effective as pharmaceutical options. This offers patients a safer alternative to dangerous pharmaceuticals like opioids. Lastly, some patients with depression or anxiety could benefit from the relaxing properties high-CBD strains of cannabis. 

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

 

Study: Canadian Patients Substituting Marijuana for Prescription Drugs

Photo Credit: Marijuana Industry News

Photo Credit: Marijuana Industry News

A recent study from the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria which was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy revealed patients in Canada suffering mental health conditions and pain substitute marijuana for opioids, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants. Researchers surveyed 271 patients registered with the cannabis producer Tilray and found 63% of respondents substituted marijuana for their prescription medication to treat pain-related conditions, including chronic pain and arthritis, mental health conditions, eating disorders, PTSD, and psychiatric disorder. The survey consisted of 107 questions that took into account demographics, use patterns, and marijuana as a substitution for medications. Authors noted that in the midst of the opioid epidemic, "cannabis could play a significant role in reducing the health burden of problematic prescription drug use.”

This information has been provided by Marijuana Industry News and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.  

Study: Medical Marijuana Patients Reduce Their Use of Opioids

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Yet another study has suggested patients who have access to medical marijuana are more likely to choose it over prescription medications. The study, which was published in The International Journal of Drug Policy, involved 277 patients registered the Canadian government's medical marijuana program. Researchers from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia looked at the use of medical marijuana and prescription medications, and found 63% of participants swapped their prescription medications with cannabis. Out of those patients, 32% substituted cannabis for opioids, 16% for benzodiazepines, and 12% for anti-depressants. Patients reasoned cannabis was safer, provided better symptom management, and resulted in fewer side effects.

Authors of the study wrote, “The finding that patients using cannabis to treat pain-related conditions have a higher rate of substitution for opioids, and that patients self-reporting mental health issues have a higher rate of substitution for benzodiazepines and antidepressants has significant public health implications. In light of the growing rate of morbidity and mortality associated with these prescription medications, cannabis could play a significant role in reducing the health burden of problematic prescription drug use.”

This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Is CBD the Answer to America’s Opioid Epidemic?

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

Yet another research review suggests CBD could help those suffering opioid addiction by reducing cravings and relieving withdrawal symptoms. For this review, which was published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience, the Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders for the Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System Yasmin L. Hurd, PhD, looked over animal studies and human pilot studies. Dr. Hurd says, “If you look at both drugs and where their receptors are, opioids are much more dangerous in part because of the potential for overdose. The opioid receptors are very abundant in the brainstem area that regulates our respiration so they shut down the breathing center if opioid doses are high... Cannabinoids do not do that. They have a much wider window of therapeutic benefit without causing an overdose in adults.”

Dr. Hurd is now running a larger clinical trial to investigate whether or not cannabis can help those addicted to opioids. She hopes her findings will encourage doctors to recommend cannabis, which has a much higher safety profile, over opioids to patients with chronic pain. She also hopes the bars that have been blocking adequate marijuana research will be lifted so that the findings can guide future medical recommendations and legalization policies. She says, “For one of the first times in U.S. history, it is the general public and politicians, not scientists and physicians, who are determining the medical value of this drug in states where marijuana use has been legalized for medical purposes. Clearly, the legalization of marijuana has outpaced the science. But if we want to be able to accurately say something is medical marijuana, we have to prove that it is, indeed, medicinal.”

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