Patients using medical marijuana to control chronic pain reported a 64 percent reduction in their use of more traditional prescription pain medications known as opioids, a University of Michigan study finds. [emphasis mine]
“We estimate that [recreational marijuana laws] reduce annual opioid mortality in the range of 20%–35%, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids.”
Now a new study from the American Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience (covered by Marijuana Moment) goes much further.
What is being discussed here is not just “reducing opioid use” or “reducing opioid deaths”. Out of 600 chronic pain patients (who were using opiates) 26% had ceased taking opioids at the end of six months. A cure for opioid addiction.
And these test patients were heavy opioid users, with average consumption of (the equivalent of) 120 mg per day of morphine. In addition to those who were cured, 55% of these patients reduced their opioid use, by an average of 30%. The remaining 19% (less than 1 in 5) reported no change in their opioid usage.
What this indicates is that for opioid users whose usage is connected to addiction more than the pain itself, that cannabis can represent a complete cure. And (as shown) cannabis can wean even heavy opioid users off of their addiction – safely.
Cannabis is not contraindicated with respect to any pharmaceuticals. It can’t do any harm and (in most cases) it does a tremendous amount of good.
Even for patients with pain issues so severe that they cannot completely stop their opioid use, reducing opioids by 30% will generally translate into years of additional life-expectancy.
This is big news by itself, for several reasons.
- It significantly expands the potential of medicinal cannabis as a pain relief treatment (and addiction cure).
- It puts tremendous, additional pressure on both U.S. state and federal politicians to fully legalize cannabis.
- There is the potential for medicinal cannabis to be used for drug abuse/addiction treatment in other areas.
Opioids kill. Cannabis is safe.
If cannabis can get opioid users off of opioids, then it can perhaps be utilized to prevent more pain patients from even starting to take opiates for pain relief. At the very least, this science indicates that cannabis should be prescribed along side any opioids – as a demonstrated means of minimizing opiate consumption.
Then there is the Opioid Crisis itself. What are U.S. state and federal governments doing to actually reduce the death toll here? Not much.
Cannabis is the most effective tool known to date in alleviating opioid (ab)use. And it’s safe.
This isn’t like giving methadone to heroin addicts: trading one addiction for a somewhat less dangerous/deadly addiction.
Cannabis is non-toxic and non-addictive. It’s a path for the U.S. to win the war against opioid abuse.
How many state governors (in Prohibition states) are so secure in their ivory towers that they can afford to ignore this policy option?
What presidential candidate (or President) can afford to stand against full cannabis legalization when legal cannabis represents potential victory in dealing with the Opioid Crisis?
And if cannabis can be a potent therapy against one form of drug abuse/dependence, why not elsewhere?
Sedative overdoses kill roughly as many Americans as heroin overdoses. Sedatives are prescribed (generally by psychiatrists) for anxiety, stress, depression and sleeping problems.
Is there anything safer that could be prescribed as a treatment for those same symptoms? Yes. Medicinal cannabis. No one has ever died from a cannabis overdose.
Of course, in order for cannabis to gain acceptance here, the American Psychiatric Association needs to overcome its phobia toward medicinal cannabis.
There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development.
Straight out of Cannabis Propaganda 101 (and all refuted by real medical science). Clearly the psychiatric profession needs to go back to school when it comes to medicinal cannabis.
In the meantime, cannabis is now being established as the foremost tool in addressing (and ultimately ending) the Opioid Crisis.
It’s a horrible social problem. It’s also a multi-billion dollar commercial opportunity.
The U.S. market for opioids is estimated at $29.4 billion. There are roughly 1.7 million opioid addicts/abusers in the United States.
There was always the potential for legal cannabis to claim a significant share of this pain relief market. Now it appears that medicinal cannabis may be able to take a majority of this market – while saving countless thousands of lives.