A grand majority of patients in a new study would rather use cannabis than opioids for pain management.
Researchers from University of California Berkeley and Kent State University found that 97 percent of patients agreed that they could decrease their opioid use when using cannabis.
"This study can conclude that medical cannabis patients report successfully using cannabis along with or as a substitute for opioid-based pain medication," states the team.
"Patients in this study who are using cannabis and opioids report that they are able to use less opioids and that cannabis presents less unwanted side effects than their opioid-based medication."
The research was conducted by surveying volunteers about their pain, along with their opioid and cannabis use.
Of the 2,810 participants currently using cannabis, 828 had used opioids in the last six months to manage their pain. Of that group, “97 percent of the sample 'strongly agreed/agreed' that they are able to decrease the amount of opioids they consume when they also use cannabis. In addition, 89 percent 'strongly agreed/agreed' that taking opioids produces unwanted side effects such as constipation and nausea," the researchers said.
The researchers also found that “81 percent 'strongly agreed/agreed' that taking cannabis by itself was more effective at treating their condition than taking cannabis with opioids.”
In other words, many of the participants would rather use cannabis than opioids for pain relief if given the option.
"Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Alternatives to opioids for the treatment of pain are necessary to address this issue," the researchers write.
The findings were published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.