There has been a lot of talk about the uses and benefits of medical marijuana as more states loosen restrictions and expand their medical programs. As the US faces a growing opioid crisis, some Texas lawmakers argue that the expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Program could help reduce opioid use and provide Texans with a safer alternative to addictive pain medications. With more research and patient testimony supporting medical marijuana for chronic pain, Texas faces much more than just an economic opportunity with medical cannabis.
What is Chronic Pain?
Put simply, chronic or persistent pain is pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. In addition to the physical effects, chronic pain can also have an impact on mental health. In fact, people living with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop depression and anxiety than those without.
Chronic pain is also quite common among adults. According to the CDC, one in five US adults have chronic pain. It is a common symptom associated with conditions like cancer, MS and neuropathy. Chronic migraines, fibromyalgia and arthritis can also cause chronic pain.
How is Chronic Pain Treated?
Chronic pain is often treated with over the counter pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids. However, these treatments may not be as effective for everyone and opioids pose a serious risk of abuse and dependence. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, opioids accounted for over 46,000 overdose deaths in 2018, nearly 70% of all overdose deaths. Still, 47.2 opioid prescriptions are written for every 100 people in Texas.
With increasing support from patients, medical providers and lawmakers, medical marijuana could help tackle Texas’ opioid epidemic while providing patients with critical relief for chronic pain.
Chronic Pain and Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana is shown to be effective in reducing inflammation, neuropathic pain, spasticity and pain caused by chemotherapy. For this reason, chronic pain is the most common symptom patients use medical marijuana for in the US.
Additionally, medical marijuana appears to be a good alternative to prescription opioids. A recent report published by researchers at the University of Arizona reviewed the effectiveness of medical cannabis in reducing opioid use. The report noted a significant 64-75% reduction in opioid dosage when supplemented with medical cannabis. Additionally, 39-59% of medical cannabis users reported a complete halt in opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain. Although these findings are encouraging for medical cannabis, more studies and reviews are still needed to support the use of medical cannabis in place of opioids.
In addition to pain relief, medical marijuana may be beneficial for other symptoms such as:
Interested in learning more about the symptoms medical cannabis may relieve? View our patient success stories below.
Does Chronic Pain Qualify for Medical Cannabis in Texas?
No, chronic pain does not qualify for medical marijuana in Texas. However, patients with qualifying conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, terminal cancer and peripheral neuropathy may benefit from improved pain management with medical cannabis.
To check if you have a qualifying condition for medical cannabis, view our patient guide below.