Pain pills that aren’t addictive are the holy grail of the pharmaceutical industry. After years of litigation, however, we found out that opioids like oxycontin were billed as “non-addictive” to doctors, who then prescribed them in droves, and created a ton of addicts. All of this was happening while a bevy of states began legalizing cannabis. Sometimes, legalization advocates cited opioid abuse as a reason to legalize. Luckily, the research is showing that was a wise move. Now, a new study again shows that cannabis can help people manage pain, leading people away from addictive drugs like opioids for pain relief.

Yes, this sort of thing seems obvious to a lot of people who currently enjoy cannabis, whether it’s for medical or recreational purposes. There are strains that are specifically tuned to different types of pain, even. But it’s good that there are studies continuing to show how cannabis can be an effective alternative to opioids. For one, this provides more ammunition in states where it isn’t legal, even for medicinal purposes. Also, this means further validation of the premise that cannabis is an alternative, making a case for continuing efforts to provide access to cannabis for medical purposes. Science likes to have multiple studies confirm conclusions, just to be sure.

The study, from Johns Hopkins and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, states: “These data provide behavioral economic evidence that cannabis access may modestly reduce demand for opioids in persons who have pain.” The study basically gave pain sufferers a choice: all things being equal, would you prefer to buy cannabis or opioids for your pain? The actual mechanics of the study were a little more complicated, as is the nature of a study intended to account for statistically anomalous data. This was an online survey, albeit with controls, which always carries the risk of improperly input data — basically when someone forgets to do their homework.

Another important conclusion in this study is encapsulated in the statement, “Additional clinical studies that evaluate the analgesic effects of cannabis and cannabis-opioid effects on pain are warranted.” Studies are often done to pave the way for more in-depth studies, as they attempt to drill down into specifics that can be turned into healthy outcomes for patients. Obviously, reducing addiction to opioids is a worthy effort needing further study, as is cannabis research.

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A study published in November, 2019 found that daily pot use can help reduce daily opioid use. That one dealt specifically with illicit use, both pills and pot. Since America has no national health system, those who don’t have a regular doctor but deal with pain are increasingly turning to marijuana for their pain instead of pills because of the fears of addiction. Now states where patients don’t have access to medical marijuana have fewer excuses for legalizing this important medicine.

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