Study: Osteoarthritis Patients Reduce Their Opioid Use Following Use of Medical Cannabis

Philadelphia, PA: Osteoarthritis patients significantly decrease their daily opioid intake and experience improvements in their overall quality of life following the initiation of medical cannabis therapy, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Cureus.

Investigators affiliated with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia evaluated opioid consumption patterns in a cohort of 40 patients with osteoarthritis during the six-months immediately prior to and immediately following their enrollment in the state’s medical cannabis access program.


On average, subjects nearly halved their daily opioid intake by the end of the trial period. Nearly 40 percent of participants ceased using opioids altogether. Patients also reported reductions in pain and overall improvements in their quality of life.


Authors concluded: “Our findings indicate that providing access to MC [medical cannabis], helps patients with chronic pain due to OA [osteoarthritis] reduce their levels of opioid usage in addition to improving pain and QoL [quality of life]. Furthermore, a majority of patients did not feel intoxicated or high from MC, and of those who did, only a small percentage said it interfered with their daily activities. … Our findings support the literature in that MC reduces the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain.”


Separate findings published by the same team similarly reported that patients with chronic back pain reduce their daily opioid intake following their enrollment in the state’s medical access program. That finding is consistent with those of dozens of other studies documenting patients’ tapering of opioids and other prescription medications subsequent to their use of medical cannabis.


Full text of the study, “Medical cannabis use reduces opioid prescriptions in patients with osteoarthritis,” appears in Cureus. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, “Relationship Between marijuana and Opioids.”