Study: Inhaled Cannabis Augments Analgesic Efficacy Of Opiates

medical cannabis vs opiates

NEW YORK: The co-administration of inhaled cannabis and sub-therapeutic doses of oxycodone produces enhanced analgesic effects in human subjects, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

A team of investigators from the United States and Australia assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis and low doses of oxycodone on experimentally-induced pain in a double-blind, placebo-controlled model. Researchers assessed subjects’ pain tolerance after receiving both substances separately or in concert with one another.

While neither the administration of cannabis nor oxycodone alone significantly mitigated subjects’ pain, the combined administration of both drugs did so effectively. Authors determined, “Both active cannabis and a low dose of oxycodone (2.5 mg) were sub-therapeutic, failing to elicit analgesia on their own; however, when administered together, pain responses … were significantly reduced, pointing to the opioid-sparing effects of cannabis.”

They concluded, “Smoked cannabis combined with an ineffective analgesic dose of oxycodone produced analgesia comparable to an effective opioid analgesic dose without significantly increasing cannabis’s abuse liability.”

The findings are similar to those of a 2011 clinical trial determining that vaporized cannabis interacts synergistically with opioids to induce pain relief and therefore “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer side effects.”

In jurisdictions where marijuana is legally available, patients frequently acknowledge reducing their use of conventional medications, particularly opioids and benzodiazepines, after engaging in cannabis therapy.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Impact of co-administration of oxycodone and smoked cannabis on analgesia and abuse liability,” appears in Neuropsychopharmacology.

Read full article @ NORML


  1. David Way says

    I’m interested in what kind of controlled pain was issued and were any subjects suffering from Chronic Nerve Pain ie Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

    • says

      David, they used a cold pressor test, which is a really interesting way to induce pain in a clinical study without, you know, actually causing pain.

      I read about it here.

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