A new study conducted by researchers at Emerald Coast Research and Florida State University College of Medicine found that opioid use rates have dropped as North American patients gain access to medical cannabis, indicating a harm reduction role, yet health outcomes remain mostly unexplored. The study showed self-reported medical cannabis use, perceptions of health functioning, and changes in opioid analgesic use in Florida medical cannabis patients.
Marijuana patients were recruited from medical dispensaries across Florida and completed a 66- item cross-sectional survey that included demographic, health, and medication usage items, along with items from the Medical Outcomes Survey to assess health functioning before and after cannabis initiation, according to the study.
In between 20 and 70 years old, 95% over 54% were female, 47% were employed and most 85% were white. The most common ailment groups were Pain and Mental Health together 47.92% Mental Health 28.86% or Pain 9.07% researchers said.
The health domains of physical and emotional functioning and social functioning improved while limitations on physical and emotional problems were unchanged. 60.98% of participants reported using pain medications prior to medical marijuana, and 93.36% of them reported a change in pain medication after medical cannabis.
The majority of participants reported that they had stopped using pain medication following the initiation of medical cannabis and 11.47% reported improved functioning.
The findings suggest that some medical cannabis patients reduced their use of opioids without harming their quality of life or health functioning shortly after the legalization of medical cannabis. The public health implications of medical cannabis as an alternative analgesic are discussed, according to researchers.