Researchers look at cannabis and prescription heroin to tackle opioid crisis

Saul Bowman
April 5, 2018

"It got prescribed so much that everybody taking an opioid for chronic pain was also taking gabapentin", Dr. Murphy told NBC News.

Opioid prescriptions tend to decrease in US states that adopt medical marijuana laws or legalize recreational use of pot, two different research teams have concluded.

The Utah Medical Association is accusing the leaders of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in the state of misleading voters into supporting the measure. There are now 29 states (and the District of Columbia) with medical marijuana laws, ranging from registering dispensaries to allowing only home-grown pot. "Prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 3.742 million daily doses per year when medical cannabis dispensaries opened", they concluded.

The other study looked at opioid prescribing nationwide for people using Medicare, which covers people 65 years or older and those with disabilities. He also has one in Maryland where he says there's been success with opioid patients.

One report paper by the B.C. Centre on Substance Use(BCCSU) published in the journal Addiction in late March looked at the economic effects of the Study to Assess Long-term Opioid Maintenance Effectiveness (SALOME) trials in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.


With opioid painkillers killing more than 90 Americans a day, the search is on for alternatives that kill pain without killing the patient.

Two just-published clinical trials from Israel (where medical cannabis use is legally permitted) further affirm this phenomenon.

This week, Chris Masey, vice chair for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Policy Council for Children and Families, said Texas should make more patients eligible for inclusion in the state's medical marijuana registry. One 2017 study found gabapentin taken in tandem with opioids increases the risk of overdose by 49 percent. One of those research projects at McMaster University has looked into how cannabis can be used as an "exit drug" for nearly 1,400 opioid users.

Authors determined, "Both active cannabis and a low dose of oxycodone (2.5 mg) were sub-therapeutic, failing to elicit analgesia on their own; however, when administered together, pain responses ... were significantly reduced, pointing to the opioid-sparing effects of cannabis".

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