A truly staggering 50 million Americans deal with chronic pain — the kind not associated with cancer — and it’s a number that’s clearly contributed to the rapid rise of opioid prescriptions and subsequent addiction. But a recent review looked at nine studies involving 7,222 participants dealing with chronic pain and found that many were able to reduce or even completely eliminate their use of opioids by using cannabis. Surprise!
The study found that chronic pain patients who used both cannabis and pharmaceutical medicines showed a 64 to 75% reduction in their opioid use and had fewer emergency room visits and hospital admissions. The study also found that 32 to 59% of medical cannabis uses stopped using opioids completely.
Opioids have a significant addiction risk, and the study underscored the efficacy of cannabis use as a method of managing chronic pain. But while the study’s authors were able to document the benefits, they stopped short of recommending it, blaming it on research limitations. That’s an unfortunate sticking point for cannabis as a whole. At this time, we’re still limited in clinical studies. But as individual states continue to move forward with cannabis legalization, the federal government will soon be forced to catch up. Then, we can get the research we so desperately need.
For now, we’ll continue to stockpile these kinds of reviews and small-scale studies as more evidence of the health benefits of cannabis.