Medical cannabis can reduce opioid use for chronic pain patients

The study focused on long-term opioid therapy in chronic pain patients to determine if a consistent cannabinoid treatment over 8 months would have an effect on daily opioid usage. It was published by the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) network in January 2023.

8,165 chronic pain patients were included. They were part of the New York State Prescription Monitoring Program from 2016 to 2019, and each patient was undergoing long-term opioid therapy (LOT).

Patients were divided into two groups:

  1. Patients who only received medical cannabis for 30 days.
  2. Patients who received medical cannabis treatment for 8 months.


The "8-month" patient group reduced their daily opioid usage by about 49% on average after 8 months. The "30-day" patients reduced their daily opioid usage by only 9% on average after 8 months.

Unfortunately, this study did not track medical cannabis product types, administration methods, or doses. Nonetheless, the correlation and opioid reduction was significant.

The authors' observations and conclusions:

receiving MC [medical cannabis] for a longer duration was associated with reductions in opioid dosages, which may lower their risk of opioid-related morbidity and mortality.

During follow-up, significantly greater reductions in opioid dosage were observed among the exposure [8 months] group.

The daily MME [milligram morphine equivalent] for the last month of the follow-up period among patients receiving longer MC [medical cannabis] was reduced by 48% in the lowest stratum, 47% in the middle stratum, and 51% in the highest stratum compared with the baseline dosages.

Among individuals in the nonexposure group [30 days], daily MME was reduced by only 4% in the lowest stratum, 9% in the middle stratum, and 14% in the highest stratum.


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