New studies show that medical cannabis can help decrease and even eliminate the use of opioid medications.
One of medical cannabis’ most common uses is the treatment of chronic conditions, which affect around 40% of Americans a year. A new set of studies show evidence that, aside from making patient’s lives easier, medical cannabis can also curb the use of opioids.
The studies were presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopeadic Surgeons (AAOS), calling medical cannabis an alternative to opioids and the many issues that their misuse have resulted in, especially when discussing chronic conditions.
The study had access to the records of patients with chronic back pain who were certified for medical cannabis. Their morphine milligram equivalents (MME) were measured twice: once before patients had access to medical cannabis and a second time, six months after they had gained access.
The studies found that there was a significant decrease in patients’ MME following their cannabis prescriptions, with 38% of patients completely quitting opioids. Following their medical cannabis approval, patients reported feeling better and having better functioning.
“Our studies show that medical cannabis can be an effective treatment for chronic back pain and osteoarthritis, potentially helping reduce the reliance on opioids,” explained lead author Dr. Asif M. Ilyas. Still, he emphasized that more data is necessary in order to completely understand cannabis and its effect on these conditions and whether there could be any possible side effects that aren’t apparent in the study.
Medical cannabis has long been considered an option for chronic conditions, at least on a theoretical level. While more studies should be conducted in order to get a better understanding of marijuana’s possible side effects on this demographic, studies like this mark important first steps that could help battle opioid related deaths and provide safer alternatives to people struggling with chronic conditions.