Could greater prescription of medical cannabis be a solution to the opioid crisis?

Medical cannabis could be an important alternative to opioids when managing pain, a new study of thousands of patients concludes.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Substance Use and Misuse, found that people reported being in less pain and could function better physically and socially, after using medical cannabis.

It also found that the majority of those who had been taking oxycodone, codeine and other opioids to treat their pain were able to stop or reduce them via using medical cannabis.

The results indicate that, used under proper medical supervision, medical cannabis — cannabis and cannabis-based medicines — could reduce opioid use in certain individuals. This may help to alleviate the opioid epidemic in the US, though more research is needed.

Opioids are effective painkillers but are they are also highly addictive.

Drug overdose deaths involving opioids (prescription and non-prescription, such as heroin) have increased more than eight-fold since 1999 in the US, with more than 550,000 deaths from 1999 to 2020.

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