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Study: Chronic Pain Patients Prefer Marijuana to Opioids

A study recently published in The International Journal of Drug Policy found that patients with chronic pain issues chose to use medical marijuana instead of prescribed opiates for their pain (Gaita, 2017). 


The study was conducted by Zach Walsh, an associate professor at University of British Columbia, and Philippe Lucas, a graduate fellow at the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia. Researchers examined over 250 patients registered with Tilray, a “federally authorized medical cannabis production and research company” that Lucas is associated with (Gaita, 2017). These patients were prescribed and had access to medical marijuana for issues like chronic pain, mental health or gastrointestinal problems. 


Based on responses to an online survey regarding their treatment, 63 percent of patients chose to use medical marijuana instead of their prescriptions for painkillers, antidepressants, and sedatives. Respondents cited reasons like “fewer side effects, better symptom management, and an overall feeling that cannabis was a safer alternative to prescription medication” for their choice (Gaita, 2017).  


Walsh has stated that more research is required to find out how cannabis works in comparison to prescription medication. “Additionally,” he added, “long-term research into the potential impact of the cannabis substitution on the quality of patients’ lives is ongoing” (Gaita, 2017). 




Gaita, P. (2017). Pain patients choose marijuana over opioids in new study. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/pain-patients-choose-marijuana-over-opioids-new-study
Lucas, P., & Walsh, Z. (2017). Medical cannabis access, use, and substitution for prescription opioids and other substances: A survey of authorized medical cannabis patients. The International Journal of Drug Policy, 42, 30–5.