Specifically, the researchers will assess whether legalized medical cannabis alters health behaviors in those who live with chronic pain, and whether the substance can be used as a substitute for traditional pain treatments. As the report stated, 34 different states have some form of medical cannabis laws enacted to allow people to obtain medical marijuana given a specific set of certain criteria and qualifying conditions.
The project is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which is a branch of the National Institute of Health. The grant amount of $3.5 million will help spearhead the research project.
The researcher’s will work with the Research Data Assistance Center (RESDac) at the University of Minnesota. Researchers will look into data concerning five million Medicaid and five million Medicare patients’ medical claim history and prescription drug use. It will also pave the way for Georgia who has already applied access to high-CBD and low-THC cannabis extracts.
Grace Bagwell Adams, an assistant professor, who is teaming up with SPIA associate professor Amanda Abraham and the UGA personnel, had this to say:
“We are thrilled to get started on this work,” … “Much of the policy change has happened quickly in a landscape that is not well understood at the patient level. This work is going to contribute to our understanding about the intersectionality of medical cannabis policy and the behavior of chronic pain patients.”
While David Bradford, part of the UGA research team, added:
“Researchers have been able to document reductions in aggregate prescription use, especially opioids, after states implement MCLs,” … “But there is almost no research on how a large representative sample of individual patients respond to medical cannabis access. Do we see lots of patients reducing opioid use, or just a few patients reducing by a lot? What happens to other kinds of health care use, like emergency room visits or physician office visits? We don’t know, and we’re excited to find out.”
“So far, no one has examined whether these cannabis extract laws change health care use. We’ll be the first to systematically evaluate that, and hopefully can give Georgia and other policymakers some idea of what to expect as we continue to roll this policy out in the state.”
We look forward to hearing the findings of doctors Bradford, Adams and Abraham and will report the results once available on the study matter involving medical marijuana and chronic pain.