Although the medical fraternity differs in its opinions regarding medical cannabis, even its opponents agree that there seems to be sufficient proof that it does help to relieve pain. The Vermont Watchdog reports that this effect may help to save lives.
Prescription opioid abuse has risen by 52% in just four years, and heroin abuse statistics reflect a socking 262% increase. Now thought leaders are considering the possibility that medical cannabis may help to alleviate the crisis.
With $13million in government funds being used to combat the crisis, new solutions are being sought, and some doctors are saying that it could even help heroin addicts, although currently there is no conclusive scientific proof in this area.
Doctor says medical cannabis does seem to help
A Vermont doctor says that he has observed the rise in opioid overdoses at hospitals in Vermont over the last eight years at first hand. When these are used for pain, he says, medical marijuana does seem to help. Vermont already allows medical cannabis to be used as a treatment for chronic pain, but a new bill proposes that it also be offered as a means of helping opioid addicts reduce or kick their habit.
Since most prescription opioid addicts suffer from genuine pain issues, allowing them to substitute medical cannabis could help to relieve their pain, thereby allowing them to use less dangerous medications to make it through the day.
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Professor hopes broader access will speed research
A University of Vermont professor says that he is ‘happy’ about the bill and says he hopes that it will allow researchers greater scope in investigating medical cannabis’ potential. At the same time, he points out that Vermont has some of the strictest medical cannabis legislation in the country and that few Vermont citizens currently use medical cannabis as a result. He estimates that around 1,500 New Hampshire people are dying as a result of opioid overdoses.
State representative says it’s a trade-off between opioids and medical cannabis
State representative on the House committee on Human Services, Chip Torianao has been an advocate for the provision of treatment to opioid addicts, and agrees that medical cannabis may be of help. However, he feels that when this treatment takes the form of marijuana, it is merely a matter of substitution of a less dangerous and damaging substance for a more dangerous one.
No ‘stoner’ effect from CBD
The primary concern about using medical cannabis is that, though it is safer than opioids, it does have psychoactive effects. However, a 2007 study is among those concluding that CBD, a cannabinoid with no psychotropic effects shows great promise for the relief of chronic pain.
However, whether CBD or THC is used, a study in a respected medical journal has indicated in the region of 25% lower rates of opioid deaths in states with medical cannabis programs. A broader study looking at opioid misuse in general also seems to indicate positive effects in states where medical cannabis is available, but the researchers warn that a longer term study should be conducted to see whether this benefit is sustainable.
Do you or have you used medical cannabis for pain relief? What is your experience? Will broader medical cannabis programs help to reduce opioid intake?