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Association of medical cannabis licensure with prescription opioid receipt: A population-based, individual-level retrospective cohort study.

Abstract

The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in physiological processes fundamental to pain, giving plausibility to the hypothesis that cannabis may be used as a substitute or complement to prescription opioids in the management of chronic pain. We examined the association of medical cannabis licensure with likelihood of prescription opioid receipt using administrative records.

This study linked registry information for medical cannabis licensure with records from the prescription drug monitoring program from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019 to create a population-based, retrospective cohort in Rhode Island. We examined within-person changes in receipt of any opioid prescription and receipt of an opioid prescription with a morphine equivalent dose of 50 mg or more, and of 90 mg or more.

Medical cannabis licensure was not associated with subsequent cessation and reduction in prescription opioid use. Re-scheduling of cannabis will allow for the conduct of randomized controlled trials to determine the efficacy of medical cannabis as an alternative to prescription opioid use or a complement to the use of lower doses of prescription opioids in patients with chronic pain.

The sample included 5,296 participants with medical cannabis license. Medical cannabis licensure was not associated with the odds of filling any opioid prescription (OR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.94-0.1.05) or the odds of filling a prescription with a morphine equivalent dose of 50 mg or more (OR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.84-1.04) and 90 mg or more (OR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.86-1.15).

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