Patients Replacing Prescription Opioids With Cannabis, Updated Canadian Study Says

Article by Lift News

Patients replacing prescription opioids with cannabis, updated Canadian study says Philippe Lucas, study lead and VP at Tilray, will present the findings of the updated study at next weekend’s Lift Expo

An exciting landmark study released in February 2017 showed that when given the choice, patients reach for cannabis rather than prescribed opioids. The study is being updated in time for the 2017 Lift Expo, where Tilray vice president of patient research and study lead Philippe Lucas will present it.

The first version of the study was conducted in 2015, and found that a significant 63 percent of respondents—about 250 patients who were all prescribed medical marijuana legally—substituted cannabis for prescribed drugs.

The 2015 study, which was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, was the “first peer reviewed publication to come out of LP-gathered and generated data.” According to Lucas, the study marks “the first time that there’s been a survey of only federally-authorized medical cannabis patients like this under the MMPR and ACMPR.”

“What we found was that the survey respondents were male, Caucasian, single and disabled, and had lower income than the general Canadian population. We asked two separate questions: what’s your primary illness for which you have a cannabis recommendation, and what symptoms are you currently using medical marijuana to treat. Just as we’d expect, pain-related conditions were common.” Mental illness, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms were also commonly reported.

Besides establishing a demographic composite of the patient base under the MMPR and ACMPR, the study looked deeper and found that there was a substitution effect, in that patients were substituting cannabis for their other medications.

“We found that in terms of class of medications, the primary substitution reported by 32% was for opioids, followed by benzodiazepines at 16% and antidepressants at 12%. Opioids, of course, match up with the high percentage of chronic pain in the study. With the high rate of opioid use and overdoses plaguing North America, this demonstrates that cannabis can play a harm reduction role by reducing the use of opioids.”

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