The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded a five-year, $3.8 million grant to researchers for the first long-term investigation to see if medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain.
The study will use real medical cannabis from New York dispensaries, not low-quality NIDA product.
The federal grant, given to scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, could provide peer-reviewed evidence of the widespread but anecdotal phenomenon of chronic pain patients stepping down from opioid use to a safer reliance on medical cannabis to manage and alleviate their pain. Notably, the study will use real medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries in New York State, not the lower-quality “research grade” cannabis grown by federal contractors in Mississippi.
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“There is a lack of information about the impact of medical marijuana on opioid use in those with chronic pain,” Chinazo Cunningham, associate chief of general internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore and principal investigator on the grant, said in a media release. “We hope this study will fill in the gaps and provide doctors and patients with some much needed guidance.”
The study will have a special focus on chronic pain patients with HIV. Cunningham plans to enroll 250 HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults with chronic pain who use opioids and who have received certification from their physicians to use medical marijuana, which is provided through approved dispensaries in New York State.
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Over 18 months, the study subjects will complete web-based questionnaires every two weeks, which will focus on pain levels and the medical and illicit use of marijuana and opioids. They’ll also provide urine and blood samples