By: Kat Mccue of Salud Móvil
A new study finds that patients who can legally treat themselves with medical cannabis stop using prescription opioids or use fewer opiates to care for chronic pain symptoms.
Patients enrolled in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program also suffered less pain, and they enjoyed a higher quality of life, better social experiences, higher levels of activity, and concentration.
The investigation published in the journal PLOS One analyzed health records from 66 habitual opioid users who were diagnosed with severe chronic pain to determine if and how legalized medical marijuana programs affected patients’ opioid use. Thirty-seven of the patients were enrolled in a legal medical cannabis program in New Mexico between 2010 and 2015 while the remaining 29 patients were not registered
New Mexico’s medical marijuana program allows its patients with severe chronic pain to self-manage their marijuana use, including how and how often the patients take cannabis, and what strength and strain of cannabis are used, giving patients much latitude over managing their condition.
For the study, researchers had access to 21 months of prescription data, including three months of data before patient enrollment in the medical cannabis program. Compared to those patients not enrolled in the program, cannabis users were 17 times more likely to cease their prescription opioid use and over five times more likely to reduce their daily dosage of opioids.