Medical cannabis has proven to be a useful tool in combating the opioid addiction. From politicians to celebrities, the opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate in whom it effects.

New studies have suggested that some people are able to avoid using potentially addictive opioid painkillers by substituting those with medical marijuana.

Cannabis and the Opioid Epidemic

The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports that over 100 million people in America suffer the effects of Chronic Pain. Chronic pain has led to prescriptions for opiates like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine to double over the past decade. This increase in prescriptions has led to those same opiates flooding the streets, contributing to the ongoing opioid addiction crisis.

In the United States, the number of drug overdoses has risen to become one of the leading causes of death over the past decade. In 2011, out of all deaths involving prescription medications, 75% of those were because of the misuse of prescription opioid painkillers. Nearly 60% of the fatal opioid overdoses in the United States occur among patients who have prescriptions for their medications from their doctors. In states where medical cannabis is legal, a user of prescribed opiates has the ability to significantly decrease their dosage, making overdose less likely.

In new studies published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, researchers found that in states with legalized medical cannabis had 2.21 million fewer prescribed doses of opiates than those who didn’t. It was also found that in states that enacted recreational use, such as Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, saw a further decrease in opioid prescriptions.

“This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications,” said David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the Medicare study. “And for pain patients in particular, our work adds to the argument that cannabis can be effective.”

How Does Cannabis Relieve Pain?

Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain at Therapeutic Healthcare Collective in Santa Cruz

In 2011, researchers published a study suggesting the following are the pain-relieving components of cannabis:

Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC)

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Cannabinol (CBN)

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

Knowing this, it could be possible to utilize these individual components of marijuana in prescribed pain medication. Currently, there are no approved painkillers whose components are derived from cannabis. However, companies such as Nemus Bioscience Inc, Intec Pharma Ltd and Axim Biotechnologies Inc are all in different stages of research and production of cannabis-based pain medications.

These companies are trying to provide direct competition to popular, opioid-based pain medication. With over 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, many of those are forced to rely on opioid-based pain medication as their only option. This is what can directly lead to addiction and to the introduction to street-opiates, such as heroin.

Due to cannabis’ notable effects on chronic pain and pain management, it is clear that it can continue to provide an alternative to opioid-based pain medications, thus further diminishing the impact that opioids have had on our communities.

Interested in finding out which products can help with your pain management? Stop in at Therapeutic Health Collective in Santa Cruz, CA for more information.