Study: Medical Cannabis Treatment Reduces Daily Morphine Intake in Chronic Pain Patients

Pittsburgh, PA: The use of cannabis products is associated with a reduction in pain patients’ daily consumption of opioids, according to data published in the journal Pain Physician.

A team of investigators affiliated with the Institute for Pain Medicine in Pennsylvania assessed opioid use trends in a cohort of 115 chronic pain patients who initiated medical cannabis therapy. Patients in the study suffered from intractable pain and had consumed opioids for a period of at least six-months. The majority of the study’s participants were between 50 and 70 years of age. 

Consistent with other studies, authors reported that patients reduced their daily morphine milligram equivalent (MME) intake after initiating cannabis therapy. 

“There was a 67.1 percent average decrease in daily MME/patient from 49.9 to 16.4 MME at the first follow-up,” they reported. “There was a 73.3 percent decrease in MME at the second follow-up from 49.9 to 13.3 MME.”

Authors concluded: “The current study’s approach has led to a significant decrement in chronic opioid use for the majority of patients with chronic pain deciding to trial medical cannabis in our clinical setting. … Therefore, we present medical cannabis as an alternative, potentially effective, class of treatment.”

Full text of the study, “Medical cannabis used as an alternative treatment for chronic pain demonstrates reduction in chronic opioid use — A prospective study,” appears in Pain Physician. Additional information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’