An answered call for aid? Cannabinoid clinical framework for the opioid epidemic

Krista Hammaker, Nathaniel Weathington, Joseph Maroon, Lawton W. Tang, Brian Donohue, Rachel Yehuda, Kenneth M. Ford, Myro Figura, Ben Kelmendi, Belinda Tan, Matthew W. Cook, Steven D. Factor, Laura Lagano, Henry Patrick Driscoll, Adam S. Howe, Eun Bit G. Cho, David M. Rabin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The opioid crisis continues in full force, as physicians and caregivers are desperate for resources to help patients with opioid use and chronic pain disorders find safer and more accessible non-opioid tools. Main body: The purpose of this article is to review the current state of the opioid epidemic; the shifting picture of cannabinoids; and the research, policy, and current events that make opioid risk reduction an urgent public health challenge. The provided table contains an evidence-based clinical framework for the utilization of cannabinoids to treat patients with chronic pain who are dependent on opioids, seeking alternatives to opioids, and tapering opioids. Conclusion: Based on a comprehensive review of the literature and epidemiological evidence to date, cannabinoids stand to be one of the most interesting, safe, and accessible tools available to attenuate the devastation resulting from the misuse and abuse of opioid narcotics. Considering the urgency of the opioid epidemic and broadening of cannabinoid accessibility amidst absent prescribing guidelines, the authors recommend use of this clinical framework in the contexts of both clinical research continuity and patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110
JournalHarm Reduction Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Cannabinoids
  • Chronic pain
  • Opioids


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