The foliage inside of a commercial cannabis cultivation site in Bellingham, Washington.

Rory Savatgy

Study Finds Overwhelmingly Positive Response to Using MMJ as Opioid Substitute

According to a study conducted by HelloMD and the University of California Berkeley, cannabis can be used as a substitute for opioid and non-opioid based pain medication. The collaboration surveyed nearly 3,000 participants and 97 percent “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that they could decrease their opioid use when using cannabis.

Ninety-two percent of respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that they preferred medical cannabis to treat their medical condition for which they currently use opioid-based drugs; and 81 percent “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that cannabis by itself was more effective than taking cannabis with opioids.

Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer for HelloMD said that the research backs up a recent publication from the National Academy of Sciences that “clearly refuted the ‘gateway drug’ theory” associated with cannabis, “instead finding evidence of cannabis having multiple curative benefits.”

“Hopefully this will awaken the public, medical professionals and legislatures to the fact that cannabis is a safe, non-addictive product, available to help fight the opioid epidemic,” he said in a press release.

Amanda Reiman, PHD, MSW, lecturer at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare and the study’s lead author, said that because the treatment of pain “has become a politicized business” in the U.S., “the result has been the rapidly rising rate of opioid-related overdoses and dependence.”

“Patients have been telling us for decades that this practice is producing better outcomes than the use of opioid based medications,” she said in a statement. “It’s past time for the medical profession to get over their reefer madness and start working with the medical cannabis movement and industry to slow down the destruction being caused by the over prescribing and overuse of opioids.”

The study is just the latest to purport medical cannabis is an effective pain management therapy and could be utilized to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S. – which claims 91 American lives per day.

In May, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health, updated their website to include two NIDA-funded studies which “cumulatively suggest” that medical cannabis products may have a role in reducing the use of opioids to control pain.

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