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Study: Women with pelvic pain taking fewer opioids since cannabis legalisation



woman with pelvic pain

A recently published study on pelvic pain adds to the growing body of evidence which suggests that cannabis could help reduce patients’ dependency on opioid medication.

A study from the University of British Columbia has revealed that patients suffering from pelvic pain are taking fewer opioids and more cannabis since Canada legalised the substance for recreational use in 2018.

The team of researchers evaluated a cohort of 3,436 women with self-reported pelvic pain who were referred to a tertiary care clinic in Vancouver between 2013 and 2019.

The retrospective analysis focused on patients’ use of cannabis and opioid medication since changes to legislation almost three years ago.

The paper, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology, reported that recreational cannabis use increased by 32 percent amongst patients with pelvic pain after its legalisation.

After cannabis legalisation, the prevalence of cannabis use increased from 13.3 percent to 21.5 percent, according to the study.

The researchers also found that those who used cannabis post-legalisation were taking fewer prescription medications, including opioids and anti-inflammatories.

Concluding the paper, researchers said: “Post-legalisation, cannabis users were less likely to require daily opioids compared with cannabis users before legalisation. The role, perceived benefits, and possible risks of cannabis for pelvic pain require further investigation.”

These findings are consistent with a growing body of research evaluating the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for pain. An earlier study of 113 American women with chronic pelvic pain found that of the 20 percent that used cannabis, 96 percent reported that it provided improvement to their condition.

More recently, Harvard University researchers found medical cannabis to be effective for chronic pain and also revealed that opioid usage declined over a six-month period.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, opioid overdose caused more than 48,000 deaths between June 2019 and June 2020.

As opioid addiction continues to wreak havoc across North America, cannabis is being touted by many as a route out of the opioid epidemic.

A study published by The BMJ in January, for example, found that the introduction of legal cannabis stores in the US is associated with a reduction in opioid-related deaths.

Another study, published in the Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia earlier this year found that half of medical cannabis patients were able to stop using opioids after 12 months of using cannabis.

A similar study earlier this year revealed that amongst a cohort of 1,145 patients, mean opioid usage reduced by a staggering 78 percent.

Speaking to Cannabis Health back in January about the study, Conservative MP and member of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), Crispin Blunt, said: “Evidence is very strong on the benefits of substituting opiates for cannabis-based medicines.

“As clinicians continue to demonstrate cannabis’ medicinal potential in empirical frameworks, the case for changing public policy to enable widespread medical access to it becomes overwhelming.”

Meanwhile, a US biotech pharma company, Ananda, announced a second clinical trial in February to evaluate the effect of CBD on opioid-sparing amongst pain patients. The company hopes its CBD formulation could tackle the opioid crisis and positively impact the lives of people living with addiction to prescription drugs.


If this article has been on interest, you are invited to join a free webinar on Wednesday 12 May at 7pm, exploring the role of cannabis medicines in women’s health.

Expert speakers Dr Sally Ghazaleh, Sarah Higgins CNS, women’s health lead for Cannabis Patients Advocacy and Support Services (CPASS) and endometriosis patient’s Abby Hughes and Jessica* of The Endomonologues, will candidly discuss this new field of medicine.

The event is hosted by Cannabis Health, Integro Medical Clinics and CPASS, sign up for free here


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