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 16%.