Cannabis Not a Substitute to Opioids, Finds Study

“There is limited evidence that cannabis use may reduce opioid use in pain management.”


There have been studies and debates going on whether cannabis can be used as a replacement drug for people who use opioids for chronic pain.

However, a study conducted by the researchers of McMaster University has found that cannabis cannot be used as a substitute for opioid painkillers.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The researcher examined all studies on the effects of cannabis use versus opioid use during methadone maintenance therapy, a common therapy for opioid use disorder.

They found that cannabis use did not reduce illicit opioid use during therapy. They also found that it did not retain people in treatment.

Senior study author Dr. Zainab Samaan said, “There is limited evidence that cannabis use may reduce opioid use in pain management, and some high-profile organizations have suggested cannabis is an ‘exit drug’ for illicit opioid use, but we found no evidence to suggest cannabis helps patients with opioid use disorder stop using opioids.”

Dr. Samaan is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at McMaster and a Hamilton staff psychiatrist.

With the ongoing opioid crisis in the nation, researchers are leaving no stone unturned in finding out the best opioid alternative to treat chronic pain. In May, Colorado passed a bill that allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions associated with severe pain in order to combat the ongoing opioid crisis.