Medical Marijuana: A Possible Solution to the Opioid Epidemic

Could medical marijuana be a possible solution to the opioid epidemic? 

Many have theorized, and many have hoped…but now data is starting to unfold. Recent data has shown that legal cannabis has been positively correlated to reduced opioid prescriptions in many states! 

Before really getting into this data though, let’s take a look at the current problem. The Nation’s past with opioid addiction and the rise of the current opioid epidemic. 

What are opioids and what makes them so addictive?

Opioids are a class of drugs that interact with the body’s opioid receptors to produce painkilling, sedative effects. Some opioids are natural while some are synthetic, and others, like heroin, are illegal. Common opioid drugs include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), and morphine. 

The tricky thing about opioids is that they work — at least at first. So when opioids were first prescribed to us by doctors we didn’t realize the immediate addicting effects and things got out of control pretty quickly. “The problem of abuse and addiction to opioid analgesics has emerged as a major issue for the United States in the past decade and has worsened over the past few years,” noted a 2006 study.

Opioids bind to our opioid receptors so strongly that they get addictive almost immediately. Just think, who doesn’t want to be pain free?

The very real allure of opioids means they’re both physically and mentally addicting. But long term, they may not work as well as you’d think. “It is my impression that ‘pain-killing’ drugs improve the patient’s mood rather than take away the pain.” says pain expert John Sarno.

Can medical marijuana reduce pain?

If you or someone you know has been hurt by opioid abuse, cannabis may be just the thing to help. A Forbes survey of CBD users found that nearly half of them stopped relying on conventional pain medicine (for more info on CBD’s painkilling qualities you can click here). 

And THC is at least as good at reducing pain as CBD is. Combine the two, like medical cannabis does, and good things are bound to happen. User stats back this concept up; chronic pain is actually the top qualifying condition for medical cannabis use. According to Dr. Dustin Sulak, “evidence is insufficient” as to whether or not long-term opioid use actually helps chronic pain. Instead, Dr. Sulak recommends modulating the endocannabinoid system…with cannabis!

Cannabis rises, opioids fall: a state-by-state analysis

In many states, that’s exactly what’s happening. Whether they know it or not, thousands of people are asking for fewer opioid prescriptions in favor of getting their relief from medical marijuana. 

How do we know? This is where things get interesting. 

By identifying 19 states that have legalized cannabis, and then looking at how opioid prescriptions changed in the years between prohibition and legalization, one can pick up one some important trends. 

Most states experienced a significant drop in opioid use after cannabis was legalized — 15 of them, in fact! Only 4 (New Jersey, New Mexico, Michigan, and Arizona) had higher post-legalization rates.   

Another interesting tidbit: some states improved more than others. Ohio experienced the biggest decrease, with 19.2% less opioid use after legalizing medical cannabis. Pennsylvania was next up with a 17.8% decrease. 

We got the above data on opioid use from the CDC’s website.  But they are far from the only ones to pick up on this recognizable pattern. A study spanning over 10 years (1999 through 2010) found 24.8% lower annual opioid-related deaths in states with medical cannabis. In case you didn’t know, 24.8% is huge.

One more data point, this one from the ground-level: a 2017 survey of Californian patients determined that 74% of them supported substituting opioids for cannabis — or at least taking the two substances in conjunction. Indeed, medical cannabis may make opioids safer. 

Next Steps Towards Solving The Opioid Epidemic  

If you’re looking to get off opioids with the help of cannabinoids like CBD, there is hope. Thousands have gone before you and had their lives changed. As you begin your journey, know that we’re here to help.

How CBD Can Help Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

Recent studies advise that cannabidiol oil might be a great natural relief for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis pain and other joint pain. 

Arthritis directly translates to joint pain, but the term is used to describe around 200 problems that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint, and other tissues. A rheumatic condition means that the arthritis will cause an array of symptoms and impair a person’s capacity to perform everyday tasks.  

Some people have found that using CBD oil to alleviate pain by helping reduce the inflammation that is present in their joints. We’ve covered this topic quite a bit before but this article will focus specifically on pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. 

Relieving Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

Rheumatic and arthritis pain usually show signs of aching, stiffness, and swelling around several joints. The symptoms can arise gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic diseases also can affect the defense mechanisms and various organs within the body. 

Some types of arthritis, like rheumatism and lupus, may affect multiple organs and cause extensive symptoms. 

According to the survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54.4 million elderly and young adults have received a diagnosis of arthritis of some type. Of these, the 23.7 million individuals experience extreme loss of activity due to the pain caused by arthritis. 

Arthritis is by far more common among adults aged 65 years or older. However, it could also affect people of all ages, including youth and children. It is the leading explanation for disability within the United States, affecting over 50 million Americans. the two most typical sorts of arthritis are:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): 

An autoimmune disorder by which someone’s body’s defense reaction attacks their joints, causing inflammation. RA commonly affects the extremities and results in painful, swollen, and stiff joints.

Osteoarthritis (OA): 

The most typical sort of arthritis is osteoarthritis. An infirmity that affects joint cartilage and bones, producing pain and stiffness. It also affects the hip, knee, and toe joints.

CBD Research for Arthritis 

Some research on animals found that CBD may help to assist remedy arthritis also as lowering the associated inflammatory pain: 

A 2011 study acknowledged that CBD helped to scale back inflammatory pain in mice by affecting accurately how pain receptors answered to stimuli.

Even a 2014 review of the present body of research on animals thought that CBD could be an efficient treatment. 

A 2016 study observed that putting on CBD topically had the potential to assist remedy pain and inflammation linked to arthritis.

A 2017 study identified that CBD could also be a secure and useful strategy to OA joint pain.

CBD Oil and Chronic Pain

Cannabinoids, like CBD, attach themselves to specialized receptors within the brain altering a person’s defense mechanisms. One of the receptors, referred to as a  CB2 receptor, plays a task within the disease fighting capability by managing pain and inflammation.

Researchers believe that when CBD enters into the physical body, it attaches to the CB2 receptors. Alternatively, it would cause our bodies to form natural cannabinoids that are linked to the CB2 receptors. Either way, experts believe CBD affects these receptors that answer the signals they receive, possibly helping reduce inflammation and pain.

Using CBD for Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief

The options for how to use CBD are endless. People have found creams or gels applied directly onto the skin where pain is felt is quite helpful in offering immediate relief. Other options include a more daily approach such as taking CBD in capsule form, tincture even drinking CBD infused water. 

We always recommend speaking with a doctor before implementing CBD into your daily routine. We also recommend doing proper research on dosage and products that are properly suited for your body and needs. 

If you have any questions about specific products we recommend checking out our Key to Cannabis product reviews! 


Therapy aims to manage pain, minimize joint injury, and improve or maintain quality of life. Doctors will also advise medications, physical treatments, and patient education for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis pain. 

We believe through the current research that is available that supplementing with CBD with those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can only help mitigate the pain and reduce inflammation. While CBD is not the quick fix, the remedy will can usually provide immediate relief.

About the Author  

Shanta Devourn is a multipotentialite who loves to create possibilities in terms of his writings. Shanta supports educational awareness such as homegrown cannabis.  He believes in the saying “Understanding other viewpoints are enhanced when done so through outspoken synergy with those who have a different perspective as long as the situation is secure, and the idea is well-crafted.”