What the Research Says About Opiates and THC

According to 2018 data collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 128 people in the United States die each day from an opioid overdose. This has become a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse costs the United States $78.5 billion a year for the cost of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

While the government and the medical community search for solutions to the opioid epidemic as well as alternatives to treat chronic pain, the answer may be as simple as a medicinal plant.

Can Marijuana Help Reduce Opioid Use?

Recent studies indicate that making medical marijuana legally available has helped to not only reduce dependence on opioid for pain but also helped to reduce addiction rates. A study of daily cannabis use was conducted by the University of British Columbia and published in November 2019 to investigate the possibility of using cannabis in place of opioids to relieve pain. Researchers interviewed 1,100 people at the highest risk for opioid overdose in Vancouver between 2014 and 2017 and found that daily cannabis use was associated with significantly lower odds of daily illicit opioid use, suggesting that people are replacing opioids with cannabis to manager their pain. 

Results from a statistical model showed that people who used cannabis every day and nearly 50 percent lower odds of using opioids every day in comparison to non-cannabis users. Researchers also found that there may be ann intentional therapeutic elements associated with at least daily cannabis use. Daily users of cannabis reported a number of therapeutic results including reduced paid, stress, nausea and improved mental health and sleep. They also reported reduced side effects of HIV antiretroviral therapy. 

Additional Studies

The American Society of Anesthesiologists reports that an overview of seven studies of medical marijuana and the reduction of opioid use indicate positive results. Five of the studies concluded that medical marijuana may be associated with benefits such as decreased opioid overdose rates, decreased opioid use, improved quality of life, and improved pain control. The various findings from the five studies that showed a positive benefit included a 29% reduction in opioid overdoses in states with medical marijuana and a 44% to 64% reduction in opioid use among chronic pain patients. The other two studies showed no evidence of reduced opioid use overall. While the ASA still feels opioids can be used effectively for short term pain relief, the ASA supports further research into the connection of medical marijuana in relieving pain and reducing dependence on opioids, especially with long term, chronic pain relief.

Want to know more?

Research and studies into the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes are on-going and continue to reveal compelling evidence. The Healing Clinics will continue to provide resources to our readers to keep you informed and up-to-date on their progress and discovery.


The Opioid Crisis: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis