Unlike Opioids, Marijuana Doesn’t Increase Pain Sensitivity

Marijuana No Pain Sensitivity

Roughly one in five American adults suffers from chronic pain, according to the CDC. For years, the go-to solution for doctors has been prescription pain killers. When over-the-counter stuff isn’t good enough, patients often receive a prescription for narcotic pain killers of some sort. In recent decades, more pain patients have moved away from dangerous prescriptions to more natural relief through cannabis. Once again, medical marijuana proves safer as a new study finds that unlike opioids, marijuana use does not increase sensitivity to pain.


This new study was conducted by doctoral student Michelle St. Pierre in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan. We now know how long-term use of opioids can affect the patient, often increasing sensitivity to pain therefore increasing perceived pain. Therefore, it is important to understand how long-term regular cannabis use might affect patients.

According to St. Pierre:

Our results suggest frequent cannabis use did not seem to be associated with elevated sensitivity to experimental pain in a manner that can occur in opioid therapy.

The study recruited volunteers who used marijuana at least three times a week or more and established a control group that never consumed cannabis. The study participants then dunked their hand and forearm in icy water for a specific amount of times – a process called a cold-pressor task test.


Most often, chronic pain sufferers are prescribed some of the most dangerous drugs – opioids. Addiction Center statistics found that 20-30% of people prescribed opioids misuse their medicine while around 10% of those misusing their drugs will end up addicted. There are approximately 2.1 million Americans with opioid use disorder – and at least 5% of those people will go on to try heroin.

On top of all the addiction factors, there have been many studies in recent years that have determined that even short-term use of opioids can increase sensitivity to pain. The reason this game is so dangerous is that temporary pain relief that leaves patients more sensitive to pain will only increase the pain felt by those suffering from chronic pain.

The increased pain felt after the pills wear off is the reason that so many people increase their dosage, misuse the drugs, and become addicted.


On the opposite end of things, there have been many studies done suggesting that medical marijuana can help patients fight opioid addiction. This recent study from UBC Okanagan’s psychology department only further fosters the case that medical marijuana is a safer alternative to opioids or any other prescription or over-the-counter pain reliever.

St. Pierre initially expected that her results would be similar to the many studies on opioid use and increased pain sensitivity – but the results shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who uses medical marijuana for chronic pain!


Whether you suffer from chronic pain, depression, PTSD, or any number of other qualifying conditions, medical marijuana could be the treatment that works. Especially if you’re trying to reduce your reliance on opiates or other prescription medication!

If you’d like to learn more about medical marijuana you can download our free e-book. CannaMD has a team of certified medical marijuana doctors who are prepared to answer any questions you might have! Call us at (855) 420-9170 to get your medical marijuana card and start your journey to health and wellness.

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  1. Well this started out to be a good article until you started citing things that are not true. The actual rate of patients who abuse or get addicted to pain meds is around 1-2%. Opioid Induced Hyperalgesia is a fallacy whos only support is one experiment shocking the feet of lab rats which without a doubt would cause increased sensitivity. It is then claimed as the gospel truth when it is rubbish. Cannabis can be extremely helpful with pain with or without opiates and makes a really good adjunct to opiates and can help pts use less opiate. It is good that this kind of information is starting to come out about Cannabis but I would implore you PLEASE do not push Cannabis forward by using fallacy to promote it. There is enough good to be found in the plant it can stand on its own without having to tote the BS narrative on opiates. You will do the plant and countless patients who daily wait and beg for the opportunity to try other things besides opiates because pts can literally be dying and not be able to get pain medication, an ENORMOUS disservice. Please stick to what is good and true about the plant and stay out of the skewed narratives being spouted everyday about pain medication. To do otherwise is a losing game

    1. Hi Leah! Thank you for taking the time to comment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the rate of patients who abuse opioids is 21-29%. Also, several observational, cross-sectional, and prospective controlled trials have examined Opioid Induced Hyperalgesia in humans. A comprehensive review is available here. We agree: Marijuana is an incredible plant, and we remain committed to helping Florida patients get certified to receive cannabis treatment!

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