Updated on January 21, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
A new study found that 26% of pain
patients who were dependent on opioids were able to get off them completely by
using medical marijuana. The pilot study, published in the American
Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and conducted by researchers at the
University of Toronto, examined how patients could use medical cannabis to help
reduce pain and anxiety as they tapered off of opioids. The study included 600
chronic pain patients, with tapering tailored to each individual. Opioid doses
were reduced by about 10% every 1 to 2 weeks, and patients were allowed to use about half a gram of marijuana a day
for each 10% reduction in opioid dose as needed.
In addition to the
26% who got off opioids altogether, 55% had reduced their use by an average of
30%. Opioid use was unchanged in 19% of patients.
The authors pointed
to further evidence that cannabis can reduce opioid use: Since Canada
authorized the use of medical marijuana, the use of opioids has declined by