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Vast Majority of Pain Patients Prefer Cannabis to Opioids, Study Finds

June 28, 2017
Aerial view of UC Berkeley campus buildings. (nothjc/iStock)
A newly released survey of nearly 3,000 medical cannabis patients found that nearly all respondents said they could reduce their opioid consumption after adding cannabis to their treatment regimen, and a vast majority preferred cannabis to prescription pills.

In a survey of its patients, the medical cannabis community website HelloMD asked a wide range of questions examining the use of cannabis as a substitute for opioid and non-opioid based pain medication. The study, conducted in cooperation with University of California Berkeley, was led by researchers Amanda Reiman and Mark A. Welty.

Among the key findings, 97% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they could decrease their use of opioid painkillers when consuming cannabis. And 92% said that they agreed or strongly agreed that they prefer cannabis to treat their medical condition.


Is Cannabis Better for Chronic Pain Than Opioids?

Strikingly, 81% agreed or strongly agreed that cannabis alone was more effective than taking cannabis with opioids. This result was similar when patients were asked about consuming cannabis with non-opioid-based pain medication.

According to Reiman, cannabis could help with pain problems in patients who don’t want to take addictive opioid medications.

“The treatment of pain has become a politicized business in the United States. The result has been the rapidly rising rate of opioid related overdoses and dependence,” she said. “Cannabis has been used throughout the world for thousands of years to treat pain and other physical and mental health conditions.”

Reiman added that she has been hearing anecdotal evidence from patients for years.


America’s Opioid Crisis: Can High-CBD Cannabis Combat Pain and Reduce Addiction Rates?

“Patients have been telling us for decades that this practice is producing better outcomes than the use of opioid-based medications,” she said. “It’s past time for the medical profession to get over their reefer madness and start working with the medical cannabis movement and industry to slow down the destruction being caused by the over prescribing and overuse of opioids.”

Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer for HelloMD, agreed Reiman’s take.

“The latest publication from the National Academy of Sciences clearly refuted the ‘gateway drug’ theory that using marijuana can lead to opioid addiction, instead finding evidence of cannabis having multiple curative benefits,” he said. “Our study further substantiates this. Hopefully this will awaken the public, medical professionals and legislatures to the fact that cannabis is a safe, non-addictive product, available to help fight the opioid epidemic.”


Find the full study here.

Gage Peake's Bio Image

Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • familyguy

    Great now convince Jeff Sessions, because that dumbest doesn’t seem to know the difference. Big eared Russian colluding AG.

    • Fun Please

      Seems the Russians have their ideological partners in the US AKA Democrats doing their bidding. Screaming Russsia, Dems want to get rid of elections, now that they lost one. Do Vlad’s bidding and continue to run around with your head cut off – unreal

      • Jack Fanning


        • Fun Please

          Not really – just tired of the whining – it’s beyond boring- it’s miserable

      • noah vail

        you’re so full of shit your eyes are brown…wake up kool-aid drinker before it’s too late

        • Fun Please

          Snowflake go mow a lawn, deliver a newspaper, and pull some weeds. Do just one positive thing in your life – just once… snowflake…

  • Gary Craig

    Cannabis is something I’d love to give a try to. Unfortunately the state I reside in can’t seem to get its act together on their mmj program, with constant delays and stonewalling. Maryland passed its mmj in 2014, under a Democrat. In November 2014 a Republican is elected governor and three years later still nothing!

    • Fun Please

      Try a vacation to say Washington State where rec is legal. A nice pre roll, out in the woods looking at Mt Rainier is an idea. Forget the politics for a moment and burn one. You’ll thank me.

  • Jason Barker

    For New Mexico- Once we get the 70% Potency Cap from our concentrated forms of cannabis removed and patient adequate supply increased to 2.5 ounces/ units per two week window (currently 230 grams per three months) then we can properly do this. Facilities doing it now also have the patient set up with a caregiver and using potency and quantity of product that our program doesn’t allow – for now. We get those changed and we could be treating opioid addiction and other addiction per DSM-5 manual and save lives and families… Other patient advocates in other State programs are more than welcome to use the petition below to submit to their state program. The more states programs that get get petitioned for this – the sooner we make it a reality…

  • Jarred Stack

    these percentage numbers are as outrageous as our government that’s keeping this all from really happening is. like this honestly is almost not believable if you really sit down and think about :{

  • FlunkedAgain

    In the late 1970s, I had a consulting assignment at Sloan Kettering in NYC. One of my colleagues visited the hospital floors, and reported that they were having “pot parties”.

    Medical Marijuana has been around for years. It was just part of an Underground movement.

  • Zoey Thompson

    I’m so glad I came to know about AnnCannMed’s cannabis pills, it’s been 3 months now and I’m still pretty much free of the chronic back pain that I had for nearly two decades prior. I am managing my anxiety and IBS very well and I have not been on that stupid pill (omeprazole) for over 2 months now which I never use to be able to go a day without.

    • E. A. Becker

      AnnCannMed helps me treat myself. Cannabis is the best medicine. I feel better using it

      • Charlie Miller

        Is anncannmed real? No scam?

  • Mavis

    People with no science, health or statitistics informing the public about health related isssues can be dangerous and misleading. It appear this writer, who chose to avoid math and scince, failed to evalute the information here. The US used to have laws pertaining to health marketing, but now we have marketing masquerading as science. Maybe someone here should look at how sciene works, before making sweeping misleading statements about pain patients. The marijuana industry has gone overboard, marketing their product as a wellness product. Anecdotal stories and misreported facts form self selected surveys are not scince.