Medical Cannabis Laws Seem Not to Have Affected Opioid, Nonopioid Therapy

No impact on receipt of opioid or nonopioid pain treatment seen among patients with chronic noncancer pain
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

WEDNESDAY, July 5, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Medical cannabis laws seem not to have important effects on the receipt of opioid or nonopioid pain treatment, according to a study published online July 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Emma E. McGinty, Ph.D., from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined the effects of state medical cannabis laws on receipt of prescription opioids, nonopioid prescription pain medications, and procedures for chronic noncancer pain using data from 12 states that implemented medical cannabis laws and 17 comparison states. Data were included for 583,820 commercially insured adults with chronic noncancer pain.

The researchers found that relative to the prediction based on what would have happened had the law not been implemented, medical cannabis laws led to an average difference of 0.05 (95 percent confidence interval, −0.12 to 0.21), 0.05 (95 percent confidence interval, −0.13 to 0.23), and −0.17 (95 percent confidence interval, −0.42 to 0.08) percentage points in the proportion of patients receiving any opioid prescription, any nonopioid prescription pain medication, or any chronic pain procedure, respectively, in a given month during the first three years of law implementation.

"The small-in-magnitude effect estimates and narrow confidence bounds rule out an important effect of medical cannabis laws on the chronic noncancer pain treatment outcomes measured, in either direction," the authors write.

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