Patients who used medicinal cannabis found a greater reduction in prescription opioid doses than those who did not use medicinal cannabis
A new study from New York State and CUNY researchers suggests that receiving medical cannabis for 30 days or more may help patients on long-term opioid treatment to lower their dose over time.
The study, published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, found an association between receiving medical cannabis for chronic pain for a longer duration and a reduction in prescription opioid dosages among patients on long-term opioid therapy.
Patients who were on higher baseline dosages of prescription opioids when they started receiving medical cannabis experienced larger reductions in opioid dosages
These findings leverage existing population-level data to contribute robust evidence for clinicians regarding the potential clinical benefits of medical cannabis in reducing the opioid burden for long-term opioid therapy patients, and possibly reducing their risk for use of illicit substances and overdose.
The findings could further inform policies in other jurisdictions, where medical cannabis is not yet legalised, such as Ireland.
Researchers from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), the New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Office of Cannabis Management used a combination of two large State databases to analyse data from eight thousand adult New Yorkers during 2017-2019.
They evaluated prescription opioid dosages of participants during the 12 months prior to receipt of medical cannabis, and up to eight months later.
For each month of the study, the researchers compared the average daily morphine milligram equivalent (MME) of people who received medical cannabis for more than 30 days with people who received medical cannabis for 30 days or less.
Among patients with the lowest MME (less than 50 MME), the average daily MME at the end of the follow-up period for patients with longer medical cannabis duration was reduced 48 per cent from baseline.
In contrast, there was a four per cent reduction from baseline for patients with shorter medical cannabis duration. This resulted in a total MME net reduction of -14.53 (range, -17.45 to -11.61) over eight months for patients receiving medical cannabis for a longer duration.
Among patients with a baseline MME of 50 to 89, the average daily MME at the end of the follow-up period for patients with longer medical cannabis duration showed a 47 per cent reduction from baseline versus a nine per cent reduction for patients with a shorter medical cannabis duration.
This resulted in a total MME net reduction of -29.49 (range, -35.94 to -23.04) over eight months for patients receiving medical cannabis for a longer duration.
For adults with a baseline MME at 90 or greater, by the end of the follow-up period, the daily MME for patients with longer medical cannabis duration, there was a 51 per cent reduction from baseline versus 14 per cent reduction for patients with shorter medical cannabis duration.
This resulted in the largest MME net reduction of -69.81 (range, -87.09 to -52.53) over eight months for patients receiving longer medical cannabis duration.