Medical Cannabis 101

Is Cannabis an Alternative to Opioids?

By July 23, 2019 August 15th, 2022 No Comments
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cannabis: An Ancient Plant Used Throughout History

Cannabis has been used to treat ailments since 4000 BC. Despite its abilities to offer relief for those in pain, this drug became demonized and criminalized beginning in the early 20th century.

Conversely, in the 1990s, opioid prescriptions took off, leading to an epidemic of dependency and overdoses. Until this time, chronic pain was severely untreated. Cannabis has been proven to alleviate chronic pain without the health risks posed by opioids.

Chronic Pain:

100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, with symptoms ranging from difficulty sleeping to mood changes and a weakened immune system. However, pain is subjective, so it can be difficult to treat. First you’ll need to see if you’re eligible for medical cannabis.

In March 2016, there were 1.2 million authorized cannabis users in the US. Comparably, in 2013, approximately 250 million opioid prescriptions were written – meaning 3/4 of Americans could have their own bottle.

The Dangers of Opioids:

In 2010, the US accounted for 5% of the world population but consumed 99% of it’s hydrocodone supply and 88% of its oxycodone supply. Unsurprisingly, more than 15,000 people died in the US in 2015 from opioid prescriptions – around 40 deaths each day – compared to zero total deaths from cannabis.

In fact, it would take 1000x the effective dose of cannabis for it to be fatal, compared to only 5x the effective dose of opioids.

Reduce Prescription Opioids:

Patients using medical cannabis saw a 64% reduction in use of opioids and other pain medications. Cannabis has been proven to treat chronic pain, muscle spasms for those with multiple sclerosis and nausea from chemotherapy.

Each year that marijuana is legalized, the opioid overdose death rate drops – from 20% in the first year to 33% in the 6th year.

Cannabis can help to manage symptoms of chronic pain without the health risks presented by opioids.

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