Of the 20-plus cannabinoid/MMJ studies citing reduced opioid use since 2015, more than 90% reported positive patient outcomes, especially in several independent studies examining reduced opioid impact in MMJ states. As an option for chronic pain, depression/anxiety, and opiate withdrawal symptoms, CBD (with or without THC) is gaining traction in use, but is failing to gain official federal or state support.

This was a running theme at the CBD4/Opioids Conference sponsored in Denver by West420 News on October 18.

“Often opioids become less and less effective for pain,” noted neurologist Dr. Malik Hasan, who criticized the irresponsible explosion of painkiller prescriptions. Hasan joined fellow panelist Dr. Kent Crowley in predicting the tobacco industry is likely to be even more interested than pharma in cornering a significant part of the legal cannabis industry.

“If you don’t think Big Tobacco is creating some interesting cannabis varieties in their labs,” said Dr. Perry Solomon of HelloMD, “then you’re not paying attention.” Solomon presented excerpts from his study conducted earlier this year among 3000 MMJ patients (served by HelloMD in California), which cited 93% of patients prefer cannabis as a substitute or adjunct for their opiate prescriptions.

Solomon also told CBD4 attendees that the turn for the worse came from an overly-cited 1980 “five sentence letter” to New England Journal of Medicine which erroneously reported a less than 1% addiction rate for hospital painkillers. The study was cited by doctors over 600 times in other reports. Solomon pointed to the bad data as the start of overprescribing of opioids by doctors who believed the “under 1%” possible addiction number was accurate.

Sievers Biotech CEO Robert Sievers still argued that years of clinical trials must be completed before widespread promotion of CBD for opiate mitigation. Others want to gain access to state government backing for expanding conditions to include opioid abuse as a permitted medical condition allowing MMJ certification.

While the Trump Administration has made some moves to sound loud warnings about the US opioid epidemic, very few new dollars are pledged to be sent to states by the president. Trump’s lack of needed funding ignored pleas from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis (The Christie Commission) which issued its first report without mentioning MMJ.

NORML’s national executive director Paul Armentano found the exclusion of MMJ to be a political, not health-based, decision. He wrote a Washington Post op-ed suggesting “to date, over 10,000 communications have been sent to Trump Opioid Commission asking its members to consider the growing and compelling body of scientific literature. Yet, to date, the Commission’s sole response to these request has been to suggest that MJ ‘is associated with higher rates of opioid abuse disorder’ and prescription drug misuse.”