HealthDay News — Among patients taking long-term opioid therapy, medical cannabis is associated with reductions in opioid dosages, according to a study published online January 30 in JAMA Network Open.

Trang Nguyen, MD, DrPH, from the New York State Department of Health in Albany, and colleagues assessed changes in opioid dosages among patients with chronic pain receiving medical cannabis. The analysis included data from 8165 patients identified through the New York State Prescription Monitoring Program (2017 to 2019).

The researchers found significantly greater reductions in opioid dosage among those receiving medical cannabis for >30 days (exposure group). There was a dose-response association seen between patients’ opioid dosage at baseline and differences in the monthly morphine milligram equivalent [MME] reductions, with differences between exposure and nonexposure groups (−1.52 MME for <50 MME [lowest]; −3.24 MME for 50 to <90 MME [middle]; and −9.33 MME for ≥90 MME [highest stratum]). In the last month of follow-up, the daily MME among patients receiving longer medical cannabis was reduced by 48% in the lowest stratum, 47% in the middle stratum, and 51% in the highest stratum vs baseline dosages. Daily MME was reduced by only 4%, 9%, and 14%, respectively, in the nonexposure group.

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“These findings contribute evidence toward potential clinical benefits of medical cannabis in reducing prescription opioid intake, which may decrease patients’ risk of opioid overdose,” the authors write.

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