Top 5 questions about taking Medical Marijuana with Opioids

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This is Dr. Victor Chou with the Medical Marijuana Clinic of Louisiana.

Today we’re going to answer the Top 5 questions patients have about using medical marijuana with opioids.

Let’s get started.


1) How does pain control differ between medical marijuana and opioids?

The pain control pathways are different between medical marijuana and opioids.

Medical marijuana works by way of the body’s cannabinoid system, while opioid pain relievers work through a different pathway.

It’s like having a front door to your house and a back door to your house.

For many chronic pain patients, if you use opioid pain relievers but don’t address the body’s cannabinoid system, you won’t get optimal pain relief.

It’s like locking your front door but leaving the back door unlocked.

In order to protect your belongings you need to put locks on both doors, and in order to get optimal pain relief you need to address both pain pathways.


2) Can you use both medical marijuana and opioids?


Because medical marijuana and opioids work in different ways in the human body, you can use both medical marijuana and opioids at the same time.

In fact, patients using medical marijuana and opioids together often find better pain control with reduced medication doses which leads to lower risk of side effects, such as lower risk of overdose or addiction.


3) What are some strategies for using medical marijuana and opioids?

One strategy that I use with my medical marijuana patients is for them to use the medical marijuana as a scheduled consistent medication for their baseline chronic pain.

If they have an acute pain flairup, then they will take a narcotic pain reliever.

Because medical marijuana works best as a long term chronic pain reliever and the opioids work best as a short term acute pain reliever, this strategy combines the best characteristics of both medications.


4) How can I reduce my opioid use?

Many patients decide for personal reasons that they want to reduce or stop their opioid use.

I generally advise for patients to first establish a comfortable medical marijuana dose before trying to decrease their opioid use.

It usually takes 2-3 months for patients to find their “sweet spot” medical marijuana dose where there is improved pain relief, and then another 2-3 months for patients to titrate down or off their narcotics.

I have found that patients using this strategy can reduce their opioid use by 50-80%.

Remember that any medication adjustments should always be done in consultation with your own personal physician.


5) What can I do if my pain management doctor does not want to see me any more?

Some pain management physicians do not believe in medical marijuana and will not continue to see patients who use medical marijuana.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do if you pain management doctor no longer wishes to see you.

On the bright side, there are many open minded pain management physicians who I work with to provide our mutual patients with the best medical marijuana, opioid, and other pain relief options.



I hope you learned a lot from our article today.

Please feel free to View Our Tips about medical marijuana or visit our official YouTube page for videos about medical marijuana.


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Doctor Victor Chou, M.D.

Medical Marijuana Clinic of Louisiana