Medicinal Cannabis Reduced Opiate Need for Cancer Patients


Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv

A recent study of medical cannabis use found that for most oncology patients, pain measures improved significantly, other cancer-related symptoms also decreased, the consumption of painkillers was reduced, and the side effects were minimal.

Published in Frontiers in Pain Research, these findings suggest that medicinal cannabis can be an alternative to the pain relief medicines that are usually prescribed to cancer patients.

Pain, along with depression, anxiety, and insomnia, are some of the most fundamental causes of oncology patient’s disability and suffering while undergoing treatment therapies, and may even lead to worsened prognosis.

“Traditionally, cancer-related pain is mainly treated by opioid analgesics, but most oncologists perceive opioid treatment as hazardous, so alternative therapies are required,” explained author David Meiri, assistant professor at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

“Our study is the first to assess the possible benefits of medical cannabis for cancer-related pain in oncology patients; gathering information from the start of treatment, and with repeated follow-ups for an extended period of time, to get a thorough analysis of its effectiveness…”

Medical cannabis treatment was initiated by 324 patients. Most outcome measures improved significantly during treatment for most patients. Specifically, at 6 months, total cancer symptoms burden declined from baseline by a median of 18%. Reported adverse effects were common but mostly non-serious and remained stable during treatment.

Overall, many of the outcome measures improved, with less pain and cancer symptoms. Importantly, the use of opioid and other pain analgesics reduced. In fact, almost half of the patients studied stopped all analgesic medications following six months of medicinal cannabis treatment.

Which is sufficient reason to proceed to parallel testing here in the GOUSA. Thenceforth, to determining more or less standard prescriptive dosing for cancer patients. And, Yes – this is one more reason for federal legalization of medical use of cannabis.