May 26, 2024


Health know-how

Another Study Favors Cannabis Over Opioids for Chronic Pain

It is no secret that chronic pain is the number one condition for which medical cannabis is used. Although some researchers insist that its effectiveness as a pain reliever is due almost entirely to the placebo effect, the fact still remains that people experience pain relief with cannabis. But what about cannabis compared to opioids?

Yet another study, this one published in late 2023, clearly favors medical cannabis over opioids for chronic paying. It is the latest in a growing body of evidence suggesting that cannabis could be the answer to the opioid crisis. If we can cut down on the need for opioids by prescribing medical cannabis instead, we should be able to reduce the number of people who end up addicted to opioids after using them medicinally.

An Extensive Cohort Study

Researchers from New York State and CUNY conducted their cohort study with the help of 8,165 participating patients. The median age for just under half was fifty-seven. The total age range across the entire cohort was 44-62. All were using prescription opioids to manage chronic pain.

The study was designed to measure two things: the changes in opioid consumption among medical cannabis users and how duration affected those changes. When all was said and done, the researchers discovered some interesting things. Here are the study’s two key findings:

  1. Cannabis consumption for at least 30 days was associated with a significant reduction in opioid dosage.
  2. The higher the opioid dosage at baseline, the larger the reduction observed over time.

Researchers observed that substituting medical cannabis for opioids reduced total opioid consumption among patients. Furthermore, the difference between baseline consumption and reduction correlates directly with the original dosage. The higher that dosage is, the greater the reduction as a result of using medical cannabis.

The Best Reason for Promoting Cannabis

While I am neither a doctor nor a scientist, I believe this study backs up the best reason for promoting cannabis: getting people off of opioids. Even if medical cannabis did nothing else for patients, giving them an alternative to drugs we know are addictive and potentially fatal is a no-brainer. We do not need any other reason to approve medical cannabis at the federal level.

In my layperson’s opinion, prescribing cannabis as an alternative to opioid pain medications should not even need traditional FDA approval. The FDA could easily forego the normal approval process and rely on the existing studies. More than one study has reached the exact same conclusions.

Ignoring such studies only exacerbates the opioid crisis. If we are truly serious about solving that crisis, we need to get beyond our cannabis hangups and start dealing with reality. The data clearly demonstrates that medical cannabis is a viable alternative to dangerous narcotics. Why do we need any more proof?

It Can Be Controlled

Concerns about controlling medical cannabis abound in the states. That’s why states like Utah have such strict medical cannabis laws. But if nothing else, Utah regulations prove that cannabis can be controlled. Utah is a model state when it comes to developing a responsible medical cannabis program that serves both patients and the industry.

Industry players like Brigham City’s Beehive Farmacy say that Utah’s program works well. It works so well that more than 77,000 residents have medical cannabis cards. The market is working there. Meanwhile, chronic pain is the number one condition for which Utah residents get their cards.

Medical cannabis’ effectiveness as an opioid replacement is as plain as the nose on one’s face. Anyone willing to look can see the results for themselves.