Cannabis or opioids? Duh!

Countless numbers of people are prescribed opioids for pain relief. Countless numbers of people’s lives are harmed and even ruined by the subsequent problems that dependence, addiction and withdrawal bring.

Cannabis has been shown time and time again, year after year, study after study, to be effectively harmless and not physically addictive. This is in extreme sharp contrast to all forms of opioids.

Cannabis is also well known to be really helpful at reducing and managing pain. I personally know people with serious life-long painful conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and the results of serious injury, who have been able to significantly reduce their reliance on prescription medication including Tramadol and Fentanyl – and even stop using those altogether.

When someone you know personally has been taking Tramadol for many years in order to have a sorta-normal life without debilitating pain, and when they tell you that thanks to home-made cannabis oil they have cut down their use of the drug by more than 50% and have a clearer head, sleep better and are MORE pain free… well, the blind reliance on opioids really makes no sense at all.

I’ve just found the abstract of a study on Pubmed that looked at the impacts of cannabis on prescription opioid use and quality of life for 1145 patients in Canada over a six-month period. Although I have known how clinically useful cannabis can be, this that backs up my understanding very well. The full study requires purchasing, but the abstract – the condensed summary of objectives, methods and findings – is convincing on its own.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33367882/

Two quotes from the abstract that are well worth noting in particular:

Baseline opioid use was reported by 28% of participants, dropping to 11% at 6 months. Daily opioid use went from 152 mg morphine milligram equivalent (MME) at baseline to 32.2 mg MME at 6 months, a 78% reduction in mean opioid dosage.

The high rate of cannabis use for chronic pain and the subsequent reductions in opioid use suggest that cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the opioid overdose crisis, potentially improving the quality of life of patients and overall public health.

Wherever you live in the world, whenever you see a chance to encourage the normalization of medicinal cannabis, please take it! We all need to help destigmatize this drug. It is less harmful than, oh let’s see… opioids of course, but also alcohol, tobacco, even acetaminophen/paracetamol. It is a continuing shame on our society that this benign, non-addictive and medically very helpful substance is frowned upon at best and still straight-up illegal in so many places.

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