Cannabis Pain Relieving Qualities To Be Studied At UCLA: One Step Closer to Curing Opioid Crisis

Cannabis Pain Relieving Qualities To Be Studied At UCLA: One Step Closer to Curing Opioid Crisis

by Laura Geftman, LCSW 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention opioid overdose killed a record 42,000 Americans in 2016. Forty percent of those deaths can be contributed to prescriptions. While Congress can’t seem to pass a bill to address this crisis and cannabis remains a Schedule 1 drugs, there is good news for the opioid crisis.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is launching one of the first academic cannabis programs in the world to study the painkilling properties of cannabis. The high-quality study is set to use opioid patients as its subject. 

The Director of the Cannabis Research Initiative at UCLA, Dr. Jeffery Chen said, “The public consumption of cannabis has already far outpaced our scientific understanding. We desperately need to catch up.”

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis treatment of chronic pain. This is largely dependent on anecdotal research and personal accounts of cannabis treatment. 

While some research has previously be published about cannabis and opioids, this is will the first to help determine a relationship between medical cannabis versus opioid use. The journal of the American Medical Association published an article reporting that states with medical cannabis law also reported approximately 6 percent fewer opioid prescription to Medicaid patients than states where medical cannabis remains illegal. A second study amongst Medicare Part D patients showed a 8.5 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions.

These studies, however, did not prove whether medical cannabis can stem the opioid epidemic as it did not determine is patients were actually switching from opioid prescriptions to medical cannabis.

Ultimately it is thought that cannabis shows some promise in reducing opioid addiction and abuse. The new study at UCLA aims to look at the connection between the two.

The initiative has received funds from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, federal and state sources, and private donors. However researchers need approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.


About Laura Geftman, LCSW

Laura Geftman, LCSW

Laura Geftman, LCSW is the Founder of The Calm, Cool & Collected and a practicing therapist. Beyond all things cannabis and mental health, Laura is passionate about developing greater understanding for kindness and acceptance. In her free time, Laura can be found on her yoga mat, in a kayak or singing karaoke.


This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Jolie Starrett

    Lots of interesting info coming out about cannibis. Will be interesting to see how it all plays out the next few years..

  2. Tricia Snow

    This should be an interesting study! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Akiko

    This is SO interesting! It would be great to have some kind of solution for the opioid epidemic!

  4. Pauline Reynolds

    This is amazing!! I haven’t heard this before but it’s worth the study. Opioid addiction is an epidemic that Boone talks about.

  5. Holly Bird

    I am excited to see more studies done on cannabis, it seems to be the new natural substance that is taking care of everything!

  6. Ramae

    As a person diagnosed with both cancer and fibromyalgia, I see a place for both opioids and cannabis. I do find that cannabis reduces the need for opioids at times, and also they can work together quite well. Just yesterday, I took an oxycodone tablet and laid in a tub with some CBD bath salts. I haven’t felt that pain-free in months!

    1. Hi Ramae! I’ve found that each individual response to cannabis and pharmaceuticals differently. For example- i have a long family history of addiction – including oxycodone addiction- that led to suicide and death. So I would never ever try oxycodone. That doesn’t mean it can’t work for others. As all over our chemical make-ups are different, we respond to things we use to medicate ourselves very differently as well. I hope your cocktail of medication continues to help you! That bath sounded INCREDIBLE. Take good care!

  7. Anna

    Interesting. Although I do personally think that cannabis is as addictive as any other opioids.

    1. Hi Anna! Thank you for your comment. I’m curious about your opinion. Please feel free to send me a message if you would care to elaborate and/or discuss. Thanks!

  8. Kayella

    I love research studies! I’m excited to see what comes of this one. I took a class on drugs while I was in college, and my professor who is a neuropsychopharmacologist (say that 5 times fast) said that most drugs don’t actually effect the site of pain, but pain receptors in the brain. This may be why opioids are so addictive as they don’t actually treat pain, rather the receptors in your brain that let you know you are in pain. Other methods of pain treatment, such as an epidural, are not addictive because they treat the site of the pain instead of the pain receptors in the brain. Super interesting!

    1. Yes Kayella! That’s exactly what makes cannabis so interesting scientifically and otherwise. It can more effectively treat all kinds of ailments directly while many medicines treat the effects of the ailments! You had a great Neuropsychopharmacologist Professor!

  9. jen

    UCLA always seems to be on the forefront of these things.

    1. Always! UCLA is so progressive. It’s so great!!! There’s also a consortium of schools in Pennsylvania doing some great cannabis research!

  10. Jessica

    This is interesting. I hope they finally come to a conclusion.

  11. Angela Greven

    This is great news, I’m really happy to see forward momentum on this issue. Big pharma is the holdup and always has been, it’s absurd that they can legally (with an RX) prescribe these poisons to people. Then shrug their shoulders when people become addicted. Hopefully, this will make an impact on this vicious cycle. Thanks for the info 🙂

  12. Lisa

    This is awesome. So great to have a possible solution for the opiod crisis…it’s so scary how much it is taking over.

  13. Nikki

    I think it is great that further studies are being done. I have read a lot of the positive properties of cannabis and I’m interested in see what the studies reveal

  14. Sandi

    Wouldn’t that be a blessing for so many

  15. Cindy

    This will be an interesting study to follow!

  16. Katie

    I love your posts. Always so informative! Especially since this can be seen as kind of a ‘taboo’ topic.

  17. Carrie

    So many good affects. It’s interesting to watch the list grow!

  18. Kim

    I’m open to almost anything that will help the opiod crisis. It’s out of hand here in Seattle!

  19. Dee

    Lots of great information. CBD is legal in NYC and I’ve seen stores carry the products.

  20. Susan Franklin

    This sounds like a very valuable study and it will be very interesting to learn of the results. I imagine studies such as these take years to come to a final conclusion.

  21. That’s such an interesting quote from Dr. Chen. The strict regulation on CBD has made actually studying it SO difficult. It’s nice to see major institutions like UCLA spearheading the charge into the future.

  22. Amanda

    I really hope they can find an answer for the opiod crisis! That would be such a blessing to so many people and their families that have to watch them suffer.

  23. Mary

    Very interesting. It is clear that you always do your research.

  24. T.M. Brown

    This is certainly going to be an interesting study to follow.

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