Federal Grant Allows Researchers to Study Marijuana’s Effect on Opioid Addiction

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NEWS byTyler Koslow

The National Institutes of Health has been awarded a $3.8 million grant to study whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use for chronic pain.

Earlier this week, the National Institute of Health (NIH) was awarded a $3.8 million federal grant that will allow researchers to study the effects of medical marijuana on opioid use. The five-year investigation will be conducted by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, and is a major milestone in cannabis-related research and the fight against America’s ongoing opioid crisis.

The study will aim to develop peer-reviewed evidence to back up the growing number of anecdotal claims that medical cannabis helps chronic pain patients reduce opioid abuse and alleviate their pain in a safer way. Scientists will use medical-grade marijuana grown in New York, an important shift from the low-quality “research grade” green that federal contractors are cultivating.

To standardize their research, the study will focus exclusively on chronic pain patients suffering from HIV. The team will enroll 250 HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults who use opioids and have received approval from their physician for medical marijuana. According to Chinazo Cunningham, associate chief of general internal medicine and the principal investigator on the grant, his team hopes that solid evidence will provide clarity to this complex issue.

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