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Marijuana vs. Opioids: New study finds cannabis drastically reduces opioid use

Marijuana vs. Opioids: New study finds cannabis drastically reduces opioid use

Kresstine Fernando
Marijuana vs. opioids

Marijuana vs. opioids? While it has been proven that cannabis reduces dependency on opioids, a new study by a Canadian company sheds more light on the issue. 

The Marijuana vs. opioids debate is being further settled by Tilray Inc., a big Licensed Producer (LP), which filed for an IPO Wednesday on Nasdaq stock exchange.

After recently releasing its data from its Tilray Observational Patient Study (TOPS), the study quantified positive effects of cannabis as opposed to opioids.

The study focused on Tilray patients using the LP’s products from eighteen medical clinics in five different Canadian provinces. 

There were about 1,300 patients enrolled in TOPS, but the released preliminary data is based on 573 patients enrolled on or before Dec. 1, 2017, who have completed at least one post-baseline visit.

Opioid baseline use drops

In these patients, baseline opioid use was reported by 32 per cent of patients and dropped to 13.6 per cent of total study participants at six months. Average milligrams per day of opioid use among the 156 patients using opioids at baseline that completed a six-month follow-up dropped from an average of 187.3mg to 47.9mg per day, a 74.4 per cent decline, with 51.3 per cent of patients ceasing opioid use altogether.

“The high rate of cannabis use for the treatment of chronic pain — and subsequent substitution for opioids — suggests that cannabis may play a harm-reduction role in the ongoing opioid dependence and overdose crisis,” said Philippe Lucas, Vice President, Patient Research and Access at Tilray, who is also the lead investigator of TOPS.

“The cannabis substitution effect for prescription drugs has been identified and assessed via cross-sectional and population-level research,” Lucas said. However, this new study offers more of a “granular individual-level perspective of cannabis substitution for prescription drugs and associated improvement in the quality of life over time.”

Cannabis helps in the opioid crisis

Opioid use has been a hot topic in North America recently with many health organizations calling it a crisis. In Canada alone, nearly four thousand people died from opioid overdoses in 2017, with studies showing that men were mostly affected than women.

The drug overdose scourge in America claimed about 68,000 U.S. lives in 2017, with just over 45,000 of them from opioids alone. The numbers seemingly climb every year, with the majority of the deaths being accidental.

Studies like TOPS help to quantify the positive effects of cannabis that can fight opioid addiction. When studies like this are released, it reinforces the promotion of cannabis as a viable treatment option.

More and more people are seeing cannabis’s benefits when it comes to combating opioid’s dependency.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the senior medical correspondent for CNN and a medical advocate for medical marijuana has also featured the good that cannabis provides over pills in his special Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills.

In the series, Gupta criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s stance to just pop an aspirin when in pain as opioids can lead to addiction and overdose.

But research done by Tilray and other companies can reduce the harm caused by these pills and provide a more concrete evidence-based reason for cannabis use.

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