Study: Majority Of Chronic Pain Patients Replace Opioids With Cannabis

OHIO: More than two-thirds of chronic pain patients registered to legally access medical cannabis products substitute marijuana for prescription opioids, according to data published in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

Investigators from the United States and Canada assessed the use of medical cannabis and prescription drugs in a cohort of over 2,000 Canadian patients licensed to access marijuana products. Among those patients with a primary diagnosis of chronic pain, 73 percent reported substituting cannabis in place of opioids. Among those patients diagnosed specifically with headache/migraine, cannabis was frequently reported as a substitute for other medications – including opiates (43 percent), anti-depressants (39 percent), NSAIDS (21 percent), triptans (8 percent), and anti-convulsants (8 percent).

“Most patients in the pain groups reported replacing prescription medications with medicinal cannabis, the most common of which were opiates/opioids across all patient groups,” authors concluded. “This is notable given the well-described ‘opioid-sparing effect’ of cannabinoids and growing abundance of literature suggesting that cannabis may help in weaning from these medications and perhaps providing a means of combating the opioid epidemic.”

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort,” appears in The Journal of Headache and Pain. NORML’s fact-sheet highlighting the relevant, peer-reviewed research specific to the relationship between cannabis and opioids is available online.

Cannabis Use Is Associated With A Substantial Reduction In Premature Deaths In The United States

By Clark, Thomas M.
INDIANA: Adverse effects of moderate Cannabis use on physical health are subtle and rarely fatal, while Cannabis use is associated with decreased rates of obesity, diabetes mellitus, mortality from traumatic brain injury, use of alcohol and prescription drugs, driving fatalities, and opioid overdose deaths.
These data suggest that Cannabis use may decrease premature deaths. To date, no studies have attempted to estimate impacts of Cannabis use on premature death that include both adverse and beneficial effects on physical health. Marijuana use is estimated to reduce premature deaths from diabetes mellitus, cancer, and traumatic brain injury by 989 to 2,511 deaths for each 1% of the population using Cannabis. The analysis predicts an estimated 23,500 to 47,500 deaths prevented annually if medical marijuana were legal nationwide. A number of other potential causes of reduced mortality due to Cannabis use were revealed, but were excluded from the analysis because quantitative data were lacking. These estimates thus substantially underestimate the actual impact of Cannabis use on premature death.
Overall, prohibition is estimated to lead to similar numbers of premature deaths as drunk driving, homicide, or fatal opioid overdose. Cannabis use prevents thousands of premature deaths each year, and Cannabis prohibition is revealed as a major cause of premature death in the U.S.
Date: 2017-08-11
Publisher: Indiana University South Bend
Type: Article

Case Series: Topical Cannabis Preparations Associated With Reduced Opioid Use

CANADA: The administration of whole-plant topical cannabis extracts is associated with reduced pain and opioid use in patients suffering from leg and ankle ulcers due to Pyoderma Gangrenosum (PG), according to a series of case reports published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pain Symptom Management.

Researchers from the University of Toronto evaluated the impact of topically applied cannabis extracts on skin ulcer wounds in three separate patients. Extracts contained nearly equal percentages of THC and CBD.

Investigators reported clinically significant analgesia and reduced opioid utilization in all three subjects.

“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,” authors concluded. “TMC has the potential to improve pain management in patients suffering from wounds of all classes.”

Why Cannabis Is A Medication That’s Worth Legalizing

Chronic pain is a large problem.  Not only does 1/3 America suffer from it, but because the pain is both subjective and personal, it has been very difficult to treat. In fact, until the 1990s, it went largely under treated until opioid prescriptions began to rapidly increase.

Today, we have an epidemic. But, while marijuana has a complicated history stemming from its criminalization in the United States in 1937, the infographic below shows why medical marijuana is a very effective alternative to opioid prescriptions.



Poll: Marijuana Safer Than Opioids, But Moms Shouldn’t Use

By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

COLORADO: Americans think it’s safer to use marijuana than opioids to relieve pain, but they were less comfortable with children and pregnant women using pot to treat medical conditions, according to a new Yahoo/Marist poll released Monday.

Two-thirds of the respondents in the telephone survey said opioid drugs such as Vicodin or OxyContin are “riskier” to use than pot, even when the pain pills are prescribed by a doctor.

Only one in five said marijuana was riskier than opioids. The rest weren’t sure.

Every day, an overdose of prescription opioids or heroin kills 91 people, and legions more are brought back from the brink of death. Some 2 million Americans are thought to be hooked on the pills.

Last month, President Donald J. Trump appointed an opioid commission to look into the problem.

Marijuana by itself is not fatal. Doctors technically don’t prescribe it for pain or other purposes but most states that allow medical marijuana do require patients to get a doctor’s written recommendation to purchase it to treat their conditions.

Among those answering the Yahoo/Marist poll, 83 percent said the drug should be legal nationally for medical treatment.

But 70 percent said it is not acceptable for pregnant women to use marijuana to reduce nausea or pain. And the survey respondents were about evenly divided on whether marijuana should be recommended for children if it were legal.

The survey respondents were deeply divided on how Trump should approach pot: 38 percent said he shouldn’t be as tough about enforcing federal laws against recreational pot use as President Barack Obama, whose policy generally was to leave states alone.

Another 30 percent said Trump should take a harder line than Obama, while the rest weren’t sure or said Trump should treat it about the same as Obama did.

Trump’s administration has sent mixed messages to the 28 states and Washington, D.C., in violation of federal drug law when it comes to pot.

Trump said as a candidate that states should be allowed to tinker with marijuana laws. But new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said marijuana is dangerous and marijuana changes by states should not be allowed.

There has been no action yet by the U.S. Justice Department or any other federal agencies to crack down on states violating the Controlled Substances Act, which bans pot for any use.

The Yahoo/Marist telephone poll of 1,122 adults was conducted last month and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.