How Medical Marijuana Actually Helps the Opioid Epidemic

Why Opioids and Medical Cannabis are Being Used for Medical Purposes

Opioids and cannabis. One of the many talked about topics in the cannabis industry. Opioids can take on any form such as Heroin, krokodil, and ganja. Some of you may have negative experiences or perceptions about them as well. But did you know they all have medical uses and it’s also proven to work to reduce pain? Today, we’re going to learn why they’re used for medical purposes and what their medical uses are.

Opioids Ease Your Pain

Opioids are substances that help reduce pain in many individuals. As mentioned above these substances include oxycodone, heroin, cannabis, and a few others. So let’s imagine a harmless school teen in school becomes injured during a football event. Over time, his injury starts to consume him as it gives him immense pain. The teen goes to the hospital and gets a prescribed pill such as oxycodone. In this case, he uses the opioid to reduce his pain. Then you have another teen who uses opioids for entirely different reasons. The other teen begins to use it to receive some high “effects”. This other teen starts to get addicted to the opioid after some time.

In either hypothetical case, these teens used opioids positively and negatively. What we’re trying to explain is that opioids have a good side and a bad side to them. There are some countries that prohibit opioid usage, because some individuals choose to use them for recreational activities. However, there are some that purely use it for medical benefits.

On the other hand, cannabis is part of the psychoactive drug. In general, it works by changing brain function and the perception of its user. That’s what makes it well known for recreational uses. It’s also known for medical use, as you many of you are probably aware of.

So, opioids are substances that produce a painkiller effect which decreases the feeling of pain. This is similar to morphine’s effect. It’s why opioids are well known for their acute reduction pain treatment.

Dr. Francesca L. Beaudoin MD, MS – emergency medicine physician in Rhode Island Hospital, initiated a research study for low-dose ketamine, another drug in the opioid class. It showed that low-dose ketamine proved to improve pain relief in patients with acute pain. It ends with a conclusion,

“Low‐dose ketamine is a viable analgesic adjunct to morphine for the treatment of moderate to severe acute pain.”

Another medical use that patients use opioids for is cancer pain treatment. It’s also important in palliative care to help with severe, chronic, and disabling pain that occur in terminal conditions. In shorter words, opioids are great to ease for pain.

The patients that receive the most benefits using opioids are cancer patients and patients coming out of surgery.

However, not all patients are created equal. There are some becoming addicted to these opioids overtime. This is where medical cannabis comes in to play.

The Study of Medical Cannabis and Opioid Addictions

As its name suggests, medical cannabis is used for medical purposes. Although its’ uses are still controversial, a lot of medical organizations have requested the removal of cannabis from the lists of controlled substances. This is due to the idea that cannabis has proven medical properties.

Research shows that medical cannabis has several beneficial effects according to a research study report by the NCBI. It also shows improvements in cancer, HIV, and epilepsy.

Another study revealed that medical cannabis is safer for chronic pain treatment compared to opioids. Although large-scale trials are needed, the result itself is quite promising. Moreover, there’s a chance that medical cannabis can substitute in place of opioids for patients to use instead.

Lastly, medical cannabis is proven to mend patients with epilepsy which includes seizure disorders. One unique and viral case was Charlotte Figi’s case story. According to a news outbreak by CNN, her seizures began to halt when she used medical CBD.

What is CBD?

Medical CBD is an element that’s extracted from the plant. It’s then isolated and transferred into an oily substance called cannabidiol (CBD). This not only gets rid of the hassle of actually using the plant, but it ensures the patient doesn't get high or receive the THC effects. This is why Charlotte was in the right place at the right time to receive medical CBD safely and legally.

Furthermore, Charlotte was helped through the research and assistance from a Colorado-based medical marijuana group. She was given a high concentration of cannabidiol and Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol, which later became known as Charlotte’s Web.

The result was very successful. She has also been successful at disengaging herself from other anti-epileptic drugs.

It's great to see patients use cannabis to better their health, but does cannabis have the power to help patients remove themselves from taking synthetic opioids?

The Current Studies of Cannabis and Opioids

The current research of 2018 showed that medical cannabis has the ability to wean opioid addiction within users. Medical cannabis was evaluated in patients that use opioids for chronic pain, according to a clinical study by the Pain and Research Management.

The study report goes on to state,

“We conducted a pragmatic convenience study among people authorized to use cannabis for treating a chronic pain condition comparing patient reporting to their Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) opioid prescription records.”

Why is this important? This study is important because it gives us a better handle on the “opioid epidemic’. You see the study evaluates patients who would rather use cannabis altogether than use prescription medication. Moreover, the study will help those who are addicted to opioids to wean them away. There are several cases where many individuals use opioids to sate their craving instead of using it for just their pain.

How much is too much opioids?

We already know why opioids and cannabis are used for medical purposes and what their benefits are But what happens if you use too much opioids or cannabis? Also, is there any side effects from both substances?

Here are the common side effects of opioids:

· Itching

· Nausea

· Vomiting

· Constipation

· Drowsiness

· Dry mouth

These are the short-term effects of opioids after it’s taken. It may look similar to common side effects of psychoactive drugs. But opioids have a greater risk than that. It starts to build tolerance inside your body. In other words, the longer you take opioids, the higher the dose you should take before it starts working or achieve the same medication effect. It also makes your body depend on it. If you stop taking it, your body starts to feel the withdrawal effects. These 2 factors are the common reason for opioid overdose. Heroin also causes permanent brain damage as well.

What About Medical Cannabis? Is the Risk Greater Than Opioids?

​Luckily, there is insufficient data about adverse effects of medical cannabis. Although it means more research is needed. The adverse effects of medical cannabis often are not serious. It includes tiredness, dizziness and increased appetite, common side effects of psychoactive drugs. Withdrawal symptoms are a rare case of medical cannabis.

Another study is also needed to find long-term effects of medical cannabis. Recent medical evidence showed that cannabis has a risk factor for psychosis. But it also stated that cannabis itself is neither a sufficient nor a necessary cause of psychosis since psychosis also depends on certain genetics.


Now we know what medical purpose opioids and medical cannabis has toward patients. We also know its adverse effects. This gives us an opportunity to be extra careful when taking these “drugs”.

Although some points are valid of whether cannabis is better than opioids or not, there’s still data awaiting to become collected. However, the scientific research of medical cannabis we are aware of is promising. In Charlotte Figi’s case, medical cannabis really showed its full potential as a medicine. This will lead many people to research more about the plant and to really support the positive aspects of it.

While on the other hand, opioid use shouldn’t be taken lightly, the extra careful approach is needed when using opioid for medical purpose. And with the adverse effects it has, it should never be a recreational drug. The risks aren’t worth to justify the recreational purpose. In the worst case, death may be inevitable.

Furthermore, cannabis med alert has a way to secure your life in medical emergency events. How? Cannabis Med Alert has medical ID's in the form of jewelry you can wear anywhere at anytime. The more you protect yourself, the more likely you can prevent severe medical damage.

When first respondents locate your medical information within your medical ID, then they can find the right medical attention you need. Either from the type of medical cannabis you need in the moment or the amount of CBD you need if you can't communicate it yourself. This is especially important for those with epilepsy who have limited to severe seizures.

All in all, medical cannabis has helped many patients globally in numerous ways. Now, only time can tell what place cannabis has in the world. If you enjoyed the article and have questions or comments, then please feel free to comment below!

Want to learn more? Stay updated on the latest cannabis research from our Medical Cannabis Blog by signing up here.

#Medicalcannabis #MedicalMarijuana #CBD #Cannabidiol #Opioids #OpioidEpidemic

  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon


P.O. Box 340
Durango, CO 81302


T: 970-759-8939