The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $3.8 million research grant to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System for a long-term study to investigate whether medical cannabis treatment can help reduce opioid use for adults with chronic pain. The institutions will partner with Vireo Health of New York to enroll New York state medical cannabis patients.
Ari Hoffnung, Vireo Health of New York CEO, indicated the study will be first federally-funded project the firm has participated in.
“We applaud the NIH – a federal agency – for funding a grant which represents an innovative collaboration between state-licensed medical marijuana companies and leading healthcare and research institutions,” he said in a press release.
The study will enroll 250 HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults with chronic pain who currently use opioids and are registered with the state’s medical cannabis program. The patients will complete web-based questionnaires bi-weekly over the course of 18 months focused on pain levels and their medical and illicit use of opioids and cannabis. Participants will also submit blood and urine samples during an in-person screening every three months and report their perceptions of how their medical cannabis use affects their opioid use.
“As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective healthcare practices and public policies,” said Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, associate chief of general internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore, and principal investigator on the grant, in a statement.
The NIH grant is titled “Does medical cannabis reduce opioid analgesics in HIV+ and HIV- adults with pain?”