A recent study published by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that patients with chronic pain who used medical cannabis for more than a month experienced a significant drop in the amount of opioids they were prescribed. The study, conducted by researchers at the New York Department of Health in collaboration with City University of New York and the Marijuana Management Office, examined 8,165 patients registered in the state’s medical cannabis program.
The researchers used data from the state’s medical marijuana programs from 2017 to 2019 to track how patients’ opioid prescriptions changed over time. The data included patients who had at least one opioid prescription and a recommendation for medical cannabis at the time they received their first marijuana prescription.
According to the findings, the number of opioids consumed by pain patients who received marijuana for more than 30 days was cut in half. Consequently, those who received marijuana for less than 30 days only experienced reductions of 4% to 14%.
The authors also noted that the rise in opioid-related casualties has resulted in stricter prescription guidelines, which has resulted in fewer opioid prescriptions and even a discontinuation by some patients. This abrupt disconnection puts patients who rely on opioids to manage their pain in a difficult situation. Some resort to the unregulated market, where risks such as fentanyl poisoning are much higher.
The new study was welcomed by cannabis supporters as additional proof that the substance can manage pain more effectively and safely than prescription medications. The findings, according to NORML, are in line with several other studies showing that patients often use cannabis to manage their pain and that many reduce or stop using opioids and other medications after receiving marijuana therapy.
James McDonald, New York’s acting commissioner of health, referred to the study as further proof that medical marijuana can reduce the quantity of opioid prescriptions required to treat severe pain.
Numerous anecdotal accounts, statistically significant studies and observational analyses have indicated that some people use cannabis as a substitute for conventional pharmaceutical drugs such as opioid painkillers and sedatives. The new study, however, adds to a growing body of literature that looks at cannabis as a potential treatment for chronic pain, particularly as an alternative to opioids.
Similar research revealed last month that legalizing cannabis for adult use at the state level was linked to reductions in opioid demand. According to the study’s findings, states with legal marijuana experienced a 26% decrease in the amount of pharmacy-prescribed codeine.
Furthermore, another AMA study revealed that two in six people with chronic pain report using marijuana as a form of treatment, and the majority of those people have done so in place of other painkillers such as opioids.
With such study results, it isn’t surprising that a number of enterprises such as India Globalization Capital Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are looking to develop a range of THC-based treatments for various indications, such as chronic pain.
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