Medical Marijuana

New Study on Cannabis as Substitute for Opioid Based Pain Medications

Since the launch of High Sobriety one of the interesting comments is “Is there research”? In fact there is, much exists on the subject about the efficacy of replacing other drugs with safer cannabis. There are more than a few ironies with this demand of proof that cannabis replacement is viable for some people, the most blaring of which often comes from 12 step evangelicals who hang their hat not on empirical knowledge but on 1930s folk lore and an act of providence. Its also somewhat odd that the cry for research comes to us. We know and we agree. The trouble is that as long as Cannabis is a schedule 1 drug, the same as heroin and cocaine, the hands of researchers are tied.

We always knew that High Sobriety would shake some trees and we would take some hits but the truth is, we are kind of research geeks. So much so we have a chief researcher, Dr. Amanda Reiman. Dr. Reiman is a super smart professor at Cal Berkeley (Go Bears!), one of the premiere research institutions in the world. Dr. Reiman has long worked in education and advocacy. Her latest study shows us how people can use Cannabis in the context of pain management. The simplest terms seem to confirm what we suspected: fewer drugs with a potential for mobility, fewer overdoses. Additional, when managing pain, cannabis is a much safer option for many people and can help them get off opiates or circumvent their use entirely. So the answer to the snarky “wheres your research?” question is “Why its right here, check it out”. Thanks for all your hard work Amanda.

Safety first!

-Joe and the High Sobriety Team

Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report

Amanda Reiman,1,* Mark Welty,2 and Perry Solomon3


Introduction: Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Alternatives

to opioids for the treatment of pain are necessary to address this issue. Cannabis can be an effective treatment

for pain, greatly reduces the chance of dependence, and eliminates the risk of fatal overdose compared to

opioid-based medications. Medical cannabis patients report that cannabis is just as effective, if not more, than

opioid-based medications for pain.

Materials and Methods: The current study examined the use of cannabis as a substitute for opioid-based pain

medication by collecting survey data from 2897 medical cannabis patients.

Discussion: Thirty-four percent of the sample reported using opioid-based pain medication in the past 6

months. Respondents overwhelmingly reported that cannabis provided relief on par with their other medications,

but without the unwanted side effects. Ninety-seven percent of the sample ‘‘strongly agreed/agreed’’

that they are able to decrease the amount of opiates they consume when they also use cannabis, and 81%

‘‘strongly agreed/agreed’’ that taking cannabis by itself was more effective at treating their condition than taking

cannabis with opioids. Results were similar for those using cannabis with nonopioid-based pain medications.

Conclusion: Future research should track clinical outcomes where cannabis is offered as a viable substitute for pain

treatment and examine the outcomes of using cannabis as a medication assisted treatment for opioid dependence.

Keywords: opiates; pain; harm reduction; substitution; opioids; cannabis