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, noted the study.
Participants were between 20 and 70 years old (95%); over 54% were female; 47% were employed and most (85%) were white. Commonly reported ailment groups were Pain and Mental Health combined (47.92%), Mental Health (28.86%), or Pain (9.07%),” researchers said.
“Health domains of bodily pain, physical functioning, and social functioning improved while limitations due to physical and emotional problems were unchanged.”
Medical Cannabis Is Quality Of Life
Moreover, 60.98% of participants reported using pain medications prior to medical marijuana, and 93.36% of these reported a change in pain medication after medical cannabis.
The majority of participants (79%) reported either cessation or reduction in pain medication use following initiation of medical cannabis and 11.47% described improved functioning.
The findings suggested that some medical cannabis patients reduced their opioid use 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," researchers concluded.
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