Daily Cannabis Use Associated With Grater Retention Rates Among Subjects Undergoing Opioid Agonist Treatment

VANCOUVER, CANADA — Daily cannabis users undergoing therapy for opioid dependence are far more likely to complete their treatment regimen than are non-users, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Addiction.

Canadian investigators assessed retention rates among 820 subjects enrolled in either methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone-based treatment programs. Researchers reported, “[I]ndividuals initiating OAT (opioid agonist treatment) were approximately 21 percent more likely to be retained in treatment at six months if they reported ≥ daily use of cannabis. This finding persisted after adjustment for a range of confounders.”

They concluded, “Given the well-known mortality risk reduction benefit of sustained engagement in OAT, findings from the present study alongside prior research evidence support the urgent need for clinical research to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids as adjunctive treatment to OAT to address the escalating opioid-overdose epidemic.”

Prior observational studies have consistently reported lower rates of opioid abuse and mortality in jurisdictions where marijuana access is legal.

Full text of the study, “High-intensity cannabis use is associated with retention in opioid agonist treatment: a longitudinal analysis,” appears in Addiction. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship between marijuana and opioids,” is online.

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