Wider Use Of Cannabis Therapy Could Reduce Prescription Pain Drug Deaths

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

Physicians who prescribe opioid drugs to patients with neuropathy (nerve pain) ought to consider recommending cannabis as an alternative therapy, according to a peer-reviewed paper published online this week in the Harm Reduction Journal.

“There is sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy for the use of (cannabis/cannabinoids) in the treatment of nerve pain relative to opioids,” the commentary states. “In states where medicinal cannabis is legal, physicians who treat neuropathic pain with opioids should evaluate their patients for a trial of cannabis and prescribe it when appropriate prior to using opioids. … Prescribing cannabis in place of opioids for neuropathic pain may reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications and may be an effective harm reduction strategy.”

The author notes that between the years 1999 and 2006, “approximately 65,000 people died from opioid analgesic overdose.” By contrast, he writes “[N]o one has ever died from an overdose of cannabis.”

In clinical trials, inhaled cannabis has been consistently shown to reduce neuropathic pain of diverse causes in subjects unresponsive to standard pain therapies.

In November, clinical investigators at the University of California, San Francisco reported that vaporized cannabis augments the analgesic effects of opiates in subjects prescribed morphine or oxycodone. Authors of the study surmised that cannabis-specific interventions “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer [patient] side effects.”

Neuropathy affects between five percent and 10 percent of the US population. The condition is often unresponsive to conventional analgesic medications such as opiates and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Full text of the paper, “Prescribing cannabis for harm reduction” is available online here.

49 thoughts

  1. Opiates and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs don’t touch the 8-10 24/7 pain but one joint a day keeps the pain away. Keeps my uncontrolable blood pressure down too.

    Cannabis laws are crimes against humanity.

  2. NJ needs to get on the good foot with its medical practice my girl miss doloinc is suffering from premature signs of ovarian cancer pain pills keep making her sick and she can still feel her pain. She can’t take then as with I and depression pills marijuana helps deal with real cancer pain and stress dissorders(from my mother passing away infront of me) Stop Being So Thick Headed. NJ PEOPLE NEED THIER MEDICINE AND WANT YOU YO BECOME RICH ON IT. STOP OUR PAIN!!!!!!

  3. I want to hear what Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, has to say about that, but I would really like to hear what president Obama has to say?

    Is he running for re-election?

  4. When are our elected officials going face the studies, that have proven Marijuana is not only safe but has very useful medicinal qualities? I have Glaucoma and Marijuana has helped my eyes tremendously. Yet, I can’t get medical marijuana. One doctor told me go ahead and smoke it but not to quote him. He went on to say he would never give me a prescription for it, not until they legalize it. Consequently, I have to pay very high prices on the black market for Marijuana.






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    By Virginia T. Sherr 7-31-05
    Lyme borreliosis is a brain disease as well as a multisystemic disease caused by spirochetal bacteria.* Quite frankly, it is an infection that has been burdened with a thousand inaccurate medical diagnoses.

    The manner in which the current pandemic of tertiary Lyme disease, neuroborreliosis, has usually been handled— either angrily dismissed or strangely misdiagnosed–throughout the 30 years following its “discovery,” has blemished the historic excellence of modern American Medicine.

    Special to AOL News
    (May 28) — We’re in the midst of a terrifying epidemic, although you wouldn’t know it to talk to most doctors and health specialists.

    The disease is growing at a rate faster than AIDS. From 2006 to 2008 alone, the number of cases jumped a whopping 77 percent. In 2008 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 28,921 “confirmed” and 6,277 “probable” cases of the disease, but there could be as many as 420,000 because of underreporting.

    Prominent victims include Parker Posey, Richard Gere, President George W. Bush, Alice Walker and Christie Brinkley.

    If any other disease had stricken so many people, the medical community would be scurrying for knowledge, scrambling for cures or rushing to warn patients (think swine flu).

    But more important is the need for public health community to treat this disease like the epidemic it is, and start putting real resources into educating the public and the medical profession about how to identify it, treat it, and prevent it.





    What is required for people to come together consciously for their own benefit. Ano Ano: The Seed–The Classic Trilogy by Kristen Zambucka enlightens the audience to the core wisdoms of Hawaiian Spiritual Traditions. The title is quite fitting for the circumstance of present and the forum for the discussion as the consequence of a citizens incarceration for providing the greatest wisdom for increasing joy and comfort during the passage of birth old age sickness and death will be embraced within an appropriate consequence in time.

    Hence a great consideration to understand our collective situation is of the highest priority. Marc Scott Emery brings the wisdom of the seed. Jesse Ventura provides the clarity of the unlawful biological war used against North America in the Plum Island Conspiracy via TRUtv along with the Independent movie “Under Our Skin” showing the horrors and criminal results of this very sophisticated organic weapon empowered by the Marijuana prohibition.

    Thus the question of personal self respect and positions of response are forced upon collective society who choose to fight for any intelligent right to life.

    How ironic and necessary is it that the Cannabis Culture Crew is thurst into the position to play Citizen Cop to fix the greatest crime in our living history.

    In Western society we use money to reflect values — where is the money supporting intelligent living citizens prosecuting left over Hitler assassin doctors working for a captured administration?

  7. If never had a problem with marijuana as medicine,but when we start cutting the money the drug industry makes thay will come after us, but that’s the way it should be. Peace, Buster Jones Albany, Ga.

  8. See the latest headline out of Corpus Christi.

    “Man sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Tuesday for possession of more than 11,000 pounds marijuana”

    Texas is going the wrong way!

  9. I will be getting my wisdom teeth pulled on Friday, and I will not use the vicodin they will prescribe, because I’d much rather have marijuana as a pain killer than a drug I could potentially get addicted to.

  10. In my experience since I’m in high school hemp help me to to past all my subject, it’s help me a lot my parents and teacher don’t know why I’m so good in all my academic, it’s true not only for all the pain the hemp is good it’s also for good for brain food..that is my real story bout hemp… Trust me it’s proven and tested by my self experiment

  11. I have Chronic Pain Syndrome..or as people may Know it as RSD which is Reflex Sympathetic Disorder,I live in N.Y. where there is no medical marijuana,I can be in so,much pain and smoke and he pain is gone!!! I take pain meds they help but not as fast as marijuana does.

  12. Drugs have always been a deadly problem, unlike marijuana which has equally proven itself as a life saver.

  13. Mike get the vicoden(hydracodone) The only time I use mine is for tooth pain. I even throw away almost the whole bottle at the end of the year. I break them in half To hell with pain.

  14. The combination of oxy and weed worked great after major back surgery. I cut my doses in half and was able tolerate the oxy without the side effects. Then I was able to quit the oxy with ease as long as I had the herb. I haven’t needed a pain pill of any kind in over two years now but don’t tell Big Pharma that!

  15. Thanks to NORML for getting rid of the italics, and making the comments easier to read!!!

    [Editor’s note: The newly redesigned webpage is still in beta, so any and all suggestions are welcomed on how to improve (or fix) the pages and their functionality.]

  16. From all the stories I’ve been reading, Marijuana seems to be extremely beneficial to the human mind the body and soul. Everything on our earth was given to be used by man. The American government are a bunch of soul- less creatures, the greed has blinded them. They are not for man woman & child?

  17. There has been a lot of talk about going natural (going organic) rather than eating processed foods, marijuana is no exception. It’s cleaner and much safer than pharmaceuticals.

  18. I have depression, moderate post traumatic stress disorder, endometriosis, dysplasia, panic attacks etc…m doctor prescribed me 120mgs of methadone everyday for the last 6yrs! It has changed my life for the worst! I can no longer sit here popping these deadly drugs all day for the return of my life, this is no way to live. The worst part is I am slowly killing myself on them! From vicodan to percocet to morphine to methadone! I’m so desperate to get off & have wreaned myself voluntarily down from 12 a day to just 1.5 pills a day. Withdrawls are said to be way side than heroin & will affect me for years to come! Well when such a high dose of pain meds no longer works for my horrible daily pain I chose to get off instead of go up in dosages. Pain meddle are absolutely no help with my depression & anxiety. They actually have worsened. Why can’t I trade all of these dangerous & deadly drugs for just ONE little SAFE herb that actually safely & affectively treats my pain AS WELL AS my depression & anxiety!? Is that so wrong!? My plan is to get a mm card, my small town has just opened up our first 2 mm dispensaries. Both of my parents are life long marijuana users, they are farmers who help our community & have NO criminal records. I recently started using marijuana & was absolutely blown away at the way my mood as well as my body felt. I felt like I was living again! But I can’t use it illegally becuz I’ve signed a contact through my pain management that I won’t use any other “drugs” I’ve been on all of these for 6+yrs & I’m in my early 30’s, my doctor says I’m the ONLY patient in our city or county that is on such an extremely high dosage! I want free of them so bad. I am going to try to get a doctor to help me trade these deadly drugs for medical marijuana. Does anyone have any tips that an help me? I feel like I will be judged for even bringing it up to my doctor, even though he obviously thinks its ok for me to be on such extreme amounts of drugs that for one are the number one (methadone-pain pills) leading cause of death in recent years, its even above heroin deaths & second to cocaine! If I can’t get mm than I will chose to purchase it illegally becuz I’d rather take illegal but SAFE marijuana than the concoction of deadly drugs I’m on legally now! After all it is MY body right?! I live on the Oregon Coast & if anyone can help me it would be greatly appreciated. <3 🙂

  19. CONT’D…I am using my cellphone so I apologize for any typos 🙂

  20. Also has anyone ever heard of using it to detox from drugs such as methadone for pain? I’ve been researching & have heard hundreds of stories of how great it works for easing the withdrawals. I actually just learned that a detox clinic in Vancouver actually gives their patients marijuana in capsules becuz it is that good at helping. How does someone even go about getting medical marijuana?

  21. Will N.O.R.M.L And the other pro cannabis origination pay to have this put in a full page news paper

  22. Thanks for going back to this format, and abandoning the other one (with every other post in italics). This is now much easier to read.

  23. My mother died at age 55. Had her 1st stroke at age 40. 3rd one left her in a coma for 17 days before she died. Life long smoker – LARK cigarettes and drinker of coffee several cups a day).

    Her father was one of the 1st people to undergo a laryngectomy for throat cancer – life long smoker of cigars and cigarettes. My only recollection of him is his talking through a hole in his thoat all my life – talking in burps. He lived to be 94.

    My father died of Heart disease at age 70. First got addicted to tobacco in the war, was able to quit after I was born, but never really quit because of all the 2nd hand smoke around him.

    His father, a life long smoker died of colon cancer as did his sister (a non smoker but all the 2nd hand smoke….), both at aged 90.

    I have been smoking pot since 1973. I never even catch a cold, never get the flu and I have’nt had a vaccination for anything since I was a baby with an exception for tetanus shots for cuts and scrapes. I’m 53. And every day I walk on this earth from now on I will recommend pot FOR ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. It is the safest and most beneficial substance ON EARTH. LEGALIZE IT!!!!!!

  24. I’ve had dysthymia (chronic depression ) all
    my life. I take 2 anti-depressants to control it
    but only mm is truly effective. If the DEA & the
    FDA didn’t make so much money from prohibition,
    interdiction, prosecution, incarceration then
    we wouldn’t be having this discussion

  25. Gabapentin was the hot drug for nerve pain and neuropathy in general when tingling in extremities turns to pain .. Marijuana works much better and doesn’t leave you feeling like a zombie The function of my hand is much better with marijuana Kind of helps with my “Old man” pains and arthritis too
    Not bad stuff to get high with for those that are going to get high regardless. Just don’t let the kids gt the idea is old folks medicine and lose interest that surely would drive them to drink

  26. its not about your life or if it will kill us,
    its all about the money….and just how much they will lose in the pharm buseness.
    why can’t any of you see this start barking at the FDA plus they are loseing money too, because the big pharm pays the FDA to pass the ok drugs throught so they can cash in.
    its all about inside tradeing you know the stock market read more about it thxs

  27. if i remember right it was the year of 1973 or around ther the UNITED STATES found for there self that mmj slows down lung cancer so ther they knew it fights it ….but they stop all of that research just because of it.
    i seen this years ago right hear in the Norml ark hives.
    please all of u start reading all of what he offers us. thxs you so much give to norml what ever u can i do some times i’m i member and some times i’m not because i can’t aford it but plz do what u can

  28. im an adicct of codeine wwith prometh cough syrup,isthis true? cannabis can cure and adict to opiates,would back off the amnstinence sindrome?

  29. Congressman’s Response:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the legalization of marijuana. I appreciate hearing from you.

    As you know, marijuana has been used in societies for thousands of years. Scientists over the years have learned much about the plant, including the usage of hemp for fiber and oil for cooking. However, scientists have also learned that the drug itself, when smoked, creates serious behavioral and psychological health risks. Studies have proven that the mind-altering effects of marijuana use have led to increased crime rates and an inability to function in society.

    The medical benefits of the drug are inconclusive at best. The most recent study by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine concluded in 1999 that plant material marijuana has no currently accepted medical use. In fact, there has been some evidence that use of marijuana may lead to the use of other harmful and addictive drugs. Therefore I oppose any effort to legalize marijuana. The proven harmful effects of the substance on the body and mind far outweigh any limited agricultural use or unproven medical benefits.

    You may also know that H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Act of 2011, was introduced by Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, and would limit the application of federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana.

    H.R. 2306 was introduced on June 23, 2011, and was referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce. No further action has taken place. As a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, rest assured I will keep your views in mind as this legislation is considered by Congress.

    I appreciate you taking the time to contact me. I feel it is important to keep an open line of communication so I can best serve the interests of the 6th District. I hope you will continue to be in touch as the 112th Congress debates issues of importance to the United States.

    Thanks again for the benefit of your comments. Please do not hesitate to be in touch if I can be of further assistance .

    Sincerely, Bob Goodlatte
    Member of Congress

  30. I’m in pain 24/7 and I have done and been on everything medically possible. All of my Doctors would like to see me be able to try medical marijuana but because of personal opinions Im left here to only suffer. Please NJ look at the facts and let people like me suffer no more!

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