Safe Alternative to Opioids is Medical Cannabis

With a growing body of evidence supporting its efficacy, medical cannabis offers a viable treatment option for patients living with chronic pain. According to the CDC, chronic pain affects approximately 1 in every 5 Americans and can impact an individual’s quality of life in various ways. Recent studies have uncovered the power of medical cannabis and its ability to alleviate a wide range of pain types while allowing patients to decrease prescription opioids. 

The Texas legislative session has begun and lawmakers have filed several bills to expand access to medical cannabis in Texas. These bills include proposals to enhance the THC cap and to add chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions. Currently, patients can receive a medical cannabis prescription for over 150 approved conditions under the Compassionate Use Program. Read more below about the opioid crisis in Texas and allowing medical cannabis as a safe alternative.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Texas

In Texas, opioid overdose deaths reached an all-time high, with more than 5,000 drug overdoses between July 2021 and July 2022 and more than 100,000 nationwide in 2021. However, Kasey Claborn, lead researcher on the TXCOPE project and assistant professor at UT’s Dell Medical School, estimates that up to 70% of primarily nonfatal overdoses go unreported in Texas. 

Texas has recently announced solutions to combat the opioid crisis, however, safer alternatives with minimal side effects are essential for patients seeking pain relief. For patients living with chronic pain, medical cannabis provides a safe and effective treatment option with zero reported overdose deaths and a lower risk of dependence. In addition, medical cannabis offers patients a natural way to manage pain while improving overall health. 

Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain

The Latest Research

Several recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of medical cannabis for treating chronic pain. Medical cannabis interacts with our bodies’ endocannabinoid system to effectively relieve several types of pain without causing harmful side effects or the risk of overdose.

  • A 2023 cross-sectional study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Substance Use and Addiction reported three in ten patients use cannabis to manage their chronic pain. Additionally, more than 50% of the study participants reported that the use of cannabis led them to decrease the use of prescription opioids, prescription nonopioids, and over-the-counter pain medications. (Source: JAMA Network, 2023)
  • A 2023 study found that states with approved adult-use cannabis laws show a 26% reduction in prescription codeine dispensing, according to data collected from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
  • Data collected by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment in December 2022 reports that 51% of patients used medical cannabis for severe pain. Additionally, 13.8% reported using cannabis in place of opioids.   

The Latest Polling Data on the Approval of Medical Cannabis

Support for medical cannabis in Texas has steadily increased over the years. In September of 2022, the Dallas Morning News- University of Texas at Tyler poll reported that 83% of Texas voters strongly support cannabis for medicinal use. The September 2022 survey also discovered that 72% of Republican primary voters in Texas favored allowing physicians to prescribe medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for treating chronic pain.

Get Involved During the Texas Legislative Session

The Texas Legislative session is a critical time to make changes to laws, as legislators only meet for 150 days every other year. In addition, Texas does not allow ballot initiatives, so state representatives and senators must make proposals to advance medical cannabis policy during this time.

Want to get involved during the legislative session? Click the button below to find out how you can help. 

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