Cannabis: Good For Pain Relief, Opioid Addiction

There’s a drug crisis in America.

Tragically, men and women seeking relief from chronic pain and severe illness are dying from drug overdoses in unprecedented numbers.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…“Drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66%) involved a prescription or illicit opioid.”

New Cannabis Research Gives Hope Of Relief

Despite this growing epidemic, new cannabis research gives hope that relief is possible for those open-minded to receive it.

Although we have much to learn about cannabis as a medicinal remedy, an  unlikely group of individuals has formed to advocate for its’ use as therapy…and what they’re discovering may surprise you.

Charlotte Figi’s Story

When Matt and Paige Figi heard from their doctor the devastating news, that there was little hope their five-year-old daughter would recover from Dravet Syndrome, they reluctantly signed a do not resuscitate order and brought her home to say their goodbyes.

Having exhausted all options within the medical establishment, the grieving parents reached out to cannabis dispensaries for help and met the Stanley Brothers, who had recently bred a new strain of cannabis low in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) but high in CBD (Cannabidiol).

With no guarantee of a positive outcome, the Figis gave their precious daughter, Charlotte, the cannabis extract and waited to see what would happen.

Photo: Charlotte’s Web

Miraculously, Charlotte’s seizures subsided from nearly 300 seizures per week to approximately 0-1 seizure per week — all with no adverse side effects or negative reactions. She even went off all her subscription pharmaceuticals.

Soon after witnessing Charlotte’s transformation,  the Stanley Brothers changed the name of their cannabis plant from “Hippies Disappointment” to “Charlotte’s Web,” in honor of this brave girl and all that she and her family had experienced.

Since meeting the Figi’s in 2012, the Stanley Brothers have continued their work to research and deliver a suitable, non-psychoactive strain of cannabis for children and individuals in desperate need of medical care. They have even started a nonprofit organization called,  Realm of Caring, which “improve[s] lives through research, education, and advocacy” of cannabis therapy.

Check out Josh Stanley’s story here…

In 2013, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an Emmy Winning CNN Chief Medical Correspondent and Practicing Neurologist, met the Figis and their daughter for the first time. Needless to say, he was impressed by Charlotte’s recovery and .

Now Dr. Gupta, along with the Stanley Brothers and other medical professionals, are helping to lead the charge of reforming the negative stereotypes often associated with this Schedule One controlled substance. They also encourage further research of non-psychotropic cannabis strains, like Charlotte’s Web, that can help provide relief for those struggling with chronic pain, severe illness, opioid addiction, and other life-threatening medical issues.

In a recent interview, Dr. Sanjay said, “If you had to design a substance to help pull us out of this awful opioid epidemic it would look very much like cannabis. And we already have it…”

Five Practical Ways Cannabis May Be Effective In Opioid Treatment

Dr. Adrianne Wilson-Poe in his article entitled, “Physicians Guide to Cannabis-Assisted Opioid Reduction,” states much the same.

He highlights five practical ways cannabis may be effective in reducing opioid addition:

1. “Cannabis reduces opioid overdose mortality.”

Dr. Wilson-Poe, shows evidence that opioid overdoses have dropped significantly (25% average) in states that have medical cannabis laws.

2. “Cannabis reduces opioid consumption.”

Dr. Wilson-Poe points out that patients who struggle with chronic pain issues, appear to reduce their opioid-based medications by approximately 50% when given cannabis as an alternative pain reliever. He also states that Medicaid and Medicare prescription costs are lower in states that have cannabis laws.

3. “Cannabis can prevent dose escalation and the development of opioid tolerance.”

Dr. Wilson-Poe notes that opioids and cannabinoids share a synergistic pain-relieving quality so that when used together less opioid medication is often required.”

4. “Cannabis, alone or in combination with opiates, could be a viable first-line analgesic.”

Dr. Wilson-Poe highlights the CDC’s Spring of 2016 updated recommendations which state that generally speaking non-opioid medications should be used to treat chronic pain. And cannabis is effective and safe for this type of relief.

5. “Cannabis may be a viable tool in medication-assisted relapse prevention”

Dr. Wilson-Poe states that CBD, or cannabidiol, is non-intoxicating and reduces the emotional state which often leads to craving certain drugs. 

Pennsylvania Approves Cannabis As Means Of Treating Opioid Addiction

Not only are doctors waking up to the benefits associated with cannabis in the fight against opioid addiction, but also state legislatures as well.

In recent months, Pennsylvania approved cannabis as a legitimate means of treating opioid addiction by adding opioid-use disorder to their list of now 21 qualifying medical conditions. 

Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, stated that adding opioid-use disorder as a qualifying condition for use of medical marijuana, “enables research to be carried out on medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treatment [of] opioid-use disorder because only approved conditions can be studied through our research program.”

This decision for medical marijuana research will benefit not only Pennsylvania residence but should have positive impact on the rest of the county as well.


Although cannabis is still classified as a Schedule One drug in the United States, it is increasingly recognized by researchers, doctors, and legislators as a natural plant with numerous medicinal qualities.

Increasingly, new reports are coming out touting the health benefits of CBD for the human body.

And herein lies the crux of the issue for many. Is it possible to extract all of the good and healthy benefits from this plant without also including all of the addictive psychotropic aspects as well?

For the longest time growers and dispensaries focused on the THC properties of this drug. But as little Charlotte Figi and the Stanley Brothers have proven, there is much to be gained by shifting the attention of research to the CBD qualities of this plant.

Both Dr. Sanjay Gupda, Dr. Adrianne Wilson-Poe, and Dr. Rachel Levine believe cannabis will prove a strong alley in our fight against opioid addition. Only time will tell. 

But as we seek to learn more, one thing seems certain. If cannabis can successfully be used to treat hundreds of little kids through the Stanley Brother’s Realm of Caring, it’s got to be good – although not all pharmacists are likely to appreciate their sudden drop in business.

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