Which would health consumers prefer: Opioids or cannabis?
Health consumers were recently polled about which treatment they chose for treating chronic pain and mental health issues. Was it opioids and other medications or cannabis, researchers wanted to find out.
The experiment was the first of a kind that allowed patients access to pain and other medications as well as cannabis/
University of British Columbia Associate Prof. Zach Walsh who co-authored the study said in a press release: This study is one of the first to track medical cannabis use under the new system of licensed producers, meaning that all participants had physician authorization to access cannabis in addition to their prescription medicines."
Included were 250 people with GI and mental health ailments and chronic pain who were all prescribed medical cannabis.
Patients prefer cannabis to other prescriptions
Rather than taking antidepressants, opioids or sedatives, 63 percent of those in the study admitted to shunning their prescriptions, opting instead for cannabis.
Philippe Lucas, vice-president of Patient Research and Access at Tilray, a federally authorized medical cannabis production and research company, and a graduate fellow at the University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research of BC led the study.
Lucas said people generally feel medical cannabis is safer than prescriptions, has fewer side effects and it works better for treating symptoms.
Canada has been offering medical cannabis since 2001. There are approximately 65,000 patients who obtain the product from 30 licensed producers.
Tilray exports medical cannabis to other countries.
Lucas says medical cannabis could play a role in addressing concerns over opioid use that has become a public health focus.
The researchers are continuing to investigate whether switching to medical cannabis from opioids could have a positive impact on quality of life for patients taking prescription drugs that are often ineffective and cause side effects that require more prescriptions.