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Marijuana Leads to a Decrease in Opioid Use Among Patients With Chronic Back Pain

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A new peer-reviewed study that was recently published in the Cureus medical journal found that marijuana use leads to a reduction in opioid prescriptions for patients with chronic back pain.

Read more about the study – and why marijuana reduces opioid use – below!

Chronic Back Pain: Opioids Vs. Cannabis

Researchers in Philadelphia studied a total of 186 patients over the course of nine months. During those nine months, they tracked the average morphine milligram equivalent (MME) per day for each of the study participants – both before and after they became certified to use medical cannabis. They also tracked pain and disability scores, as well.

Opioid Use Results

After just six months of cannabis use, 39% of patients in the study were able to quit using opioids entirely. Across all 186 participants, the average decrease in opioid use was 27%.

Pain and ODI Score Results

After nine months of cannabis use, study participants reported a 29% decrease in overall pain, a 24% decrease in back pain intensity, and a 28% decrease in back pain frequency.

Routes Of Administration

The study authors reported that 47% of participants used a single-route of administration, while 38% used two routes, 14% used three routes, and just 1% used four routes. The most common routes of administration were vaporized oil and sublingual tinctures.

Of the patients who chose to only use a single route of administration, the most popular choice was vaporized oil (28%). Surprisingly, the least popular choice was actually vaporized flower (12%).


Patients with chronic back pain can significantly reduce their overall pain and opioid prescription use with medical marijuana.

Study authors conclude:

Patients with [back pain] who were certified for medical cannabis (MC), filled a significantly reduced amount of opioid prescriptions post-MC compared to pre-MC. Upon MC certification, patients with lower levels of baseline opioid use have a high chance of stopping opioid use altogether. Patients show improved pain scores and daily function scores following MC certification. The use of multiple routes of administration simultaneously may be more efficacious in reducing opioid utilization.

Currently struggling with chronic back pain or other health issues? Reach out to CannaMD‘s board-certified physicians to learn how medical marijuana can help!


Questions about medical marijuana? Ready to get your card and purchase legal cannabis products? CannaMD‘s state-certified network of medical marijuana doctors are here to help! Contact CannaMD‘s experienced team at (855) 420-9170 today. You can also find out if you qualify for medical marijuana treatment with our quick online application!

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Author Bio

McKenzie Lewis

McKenzie Lewis has been a member of the CannaMD marketing team since 2018. Prior to joining CannaMD, she attended the University of Central Florida where she received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in psychology. When it comes to cannabis research, she is especially interested in the application of marijuana as a treatment method for insomnia.
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