The initiation of medical cannabis therapy is associated with a reduction in the use of prescription opioids by chronic pain patients, according to data published in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

A team of Israeli investigators assessed trends in pain patients’ use of prescription opioids in the six-month periods immediately before and immediately after their initiation of medical cannabis. Consistent with other studies, they reported that patients “filled less opioid prescription medications at follow-up compared to baseline.”

Authors concluded, “Medical cannabis may be related to a significant yet small reduction in opioid prescription medication.”

Studies have consistently identified reduced levels of opioid use among pain patients who initiate cannabis therapy. Controlled studies have also documented that the co-administration of either whole-plant cannabis or oral THC with opioids augments their analgesic effects – even at subclinical doses.

Full text of the study, “Opioid and healthcare service use in medical cannabis patients with chronic pain: A prospective study,” appears in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Additional information regarding the relationship between cannabis and prescription pain relievers is available from the NORML fact sheet, “Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.”

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