Falmouth, ME: Patients who initiate the use of medical cannabis experience sustained reductions in their use of opioids, according to data published in the journal Cureus.

A pair of investigators assessed survey data from over 500 patients registered with three state-licensed medical cannabis practices in the northeastern region of the United States. Those surveyed had been prescribed opioids for chronic pain treatment for at least three months.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed reported decreasing their opioid usage following the initiation of cannabis therapy and another 40 percent of respondents acknowledged ceasing their use of opioids altogether – findings that are consistent with dozens of other studies. The majority of respondents (65 percent) reported that they sustained these changes for over one year.

Authors reported: “To our knowledge, this is one of the largest surveys of chronic pain patients who used opioids continuously for a minimum of three months and combined it with medical cannabis. Our results show a remarkable percentage of patients both reporting complete cessation of opioids and decreasing opioid usage by the addition of medical cannabis, with results lasting for over a year for the majority. … We believe our results lend further support that medical cannabis provided in a standardized protocol can lead to decreased pain and opioid usage, improved function, and quality of life measures, and even complete cessation of opioids in patients with chronic pain treated by opioids.”

Full text of the study, “A survey on the effect that medical cannabis has on prescription opioid medication usage for the treatment of chronic pain at three medical cannabis practice sites,” appears in Cureus. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, “Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.”

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