Medical marijuana shows early promise to lessen opioid use and potential abuse, suggests a systematic review of published studies being presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2019 annual meeting. However, much more rigorous scientific research must be done to determine if there truly are pain relief benefits to medical marijuana that can ease chronic pain and outweigh potential risks.
The analysis focused on seven studies, five of which concluded medical marijuana may be associated with benefits such as: decreased opioid overdose rates, decreased opioid use, improved quality of life and improved pain control.
“Overall the results suggest medical marijuana may provide some benefit in mitigating opioid misuse, but the studies were not randomized controlled trials comparing marijuana to a placebo, which is what we need to determine a true benefit,” said Mario Moric, MS, lead author of the study and a biostatistician at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. “There are other issues to consider as well, including side effects and the fact that these products often aren’t regulated.”