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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Will Cannabis Help End the Opioid-Abuse Epidemic?

Photo Credit: High Times

Photo Credit: High Times

In the past decade, the use and abuse of opioid prescriptions has grown exponentially, resulting in an explosive rise opioid-related fatal overdoses. Now, handfuls of studies suggest cannabis could be a powerful natural replacement for opioids, and with no risk of fatalities, it could make a significant dent in the amount of opioid related deaths. Research shows medical marijuana can benefit chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity resulting from multiple sclerosis, all of which are conditions where opioids are traditionally prescribed. Some researchers also hypothesize its neuroprotective properties could play a role in reducing dependence on opioids when used in conjunction with marijuana. 

The results are already pointing towards to efficacy of marijuana in the reduction of opioid use. An analysis of Medicare programs in marijuana-legal state found doctors prescribed fewer painkillers than in non legal states. Additionally, chronic pain patients account for the largest portion of medical marijuana patients in states where chronic pain is a qualifying condition, suggesting medical marijuana is effective as an analgesic. 

This information is provided by High Times 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 Can Help Reduce Opioid Abuse

Opioid abuse is at an all time high, and medical marijuana's potential to help combat this epidemic is in the center of legalization and reform debates. Various studies suggest medical marijuana is effective at reducing opioid use. Last year, researchers from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found states that have implemented medical marijuana programs have an estimated 25% fewer opioid-related deaths than states that have not. Not surprisingly, another study that was published in Health Affairs found that states with medical marijuana witnessed a decrease in prescriptions of often-abused opioids.

Patients and physicians alike are noticing that medical marijuana offers symptom relief as effective to that of opioids without the threat of adverse side effects, overdose, or even death. Additionally, a review of over 10,000 medical marijuana studies dating back to 1999 found evidence supporting the use of marijuana for chronic pain. However, authors of the study, which was conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, noted the need for additional investigation of the long-term effects of marijuana use. 

This information has been provided by Merry Jane 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. 

Can Medical Marijuana Help End the Opioid Epidemic?

Image: Getty Images; Illustration by Kenneth Bachor of TIME

Image: Getty Images; Illustration by Kenneth Bachor of TIME

A report from father-daughter team W. David and Ashley C. Bradford and published in the journal Health Affairs has analyzed the data on prescriptions filled by Medicare enrollees between 2010 to 2013 and discovered that older people were making use of the medication when available and appropriate. The data also revealed that states with legalized medical marijuana saw a lower rate of prescription painkillers and other medications. Doctors prescribed on average 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers per year. This is welcomed news in the fight against opioid addiction, as fatal overdose from prescription medications have quadrupled since 1999. States where medical marijuana reduced opioid prescriptions have, as a result, saved $165.2 million per year in medical costs.

Marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug make it difficult to research and regulate, but there are studies that support the claim the medical marijuana can treat pain and combat addiction. One study from 2014 and published in the journal JAMA found states with legalized medical marijuana saw a 25%drop in opioid overdose deaths. An analysis published in JAMA in 2015 analyzed 79 studies which found cannabinoids offered a 30% or greater reduction in pain.

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

 

MMJ for the Treatment of Heroin Addiction

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, as of 2014, 586,000 Americans were addicted to heroin, a highly addictive opioid substance that produces a euphoric sensation. That same year, 10,574 accidental deaths were related to heroin. Many people who are prescribed or addicted to opioids will crossover to heroin because it is less expensive and easier to obtain. Those who are addicted to heroin may develop hepatitis, HIV, liver or kidney disease, collapsed veins, infections of the heart's lining and valves, abscesses, constipation, gastrointestinal cramping, pulmonary complications, or experience spontaneous abortion. Furthermore, those who wish to ween themselves off the drug face a whole other set of side effects, like restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, kicking movements, and goose bumps. With heroin addiction at an all time high, there is a desperate need to find a solution. 

Cannabis may be able to tackle the symptoms associated with withdrawals throughout recovery, as well as potentially increase the rate of successful recoveries. In one study, when THC was prescribed as a medication it reduced the severity of opioid withdrawals.  A few animal studies found frequent THC treatments reduced withdrawals associated with morphine, and THC injections suppressed behavioral, biochemical, and molecular dependence to morphine. Cannabis might also serve as a substitute for the drug because cannabinoids react with the brain's same reward systems that are involved in opioid addiction, but without the physically addictive properties. This will help with the gradual weening process. In another study, rats who were given CBD were less likely to self-administer heroin after a two week period, leaving researchers to conclude, "CBD may be a potential treatment for heroin craving and relapse." Lastly, some studies found cannabis users were more likely to complete their 8-week treatment trial or naltrexone pill treatments, thereby increasing the success rate for recovery programs.

This information has been brought to you by Medical Marijuana Inc. 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