According to a new study published in the journal Pain Management, the presence of THC metabolites in the urine of patients undergoing pain management is associated with lower levels of opioids.
For the study, researchers analyzed approximately 800,000 urine drug test results collected from pain management patients between the years 2016 and 2018.
The study states that “For each of the eight opioids monitored, lower mean concentrations were observed when THC-COOH [the primary metabolite of THC] was also present in the sample. The differences in opioid concentrations between the THC positive and THC negative groups were statistically significant … The largest shift was seen in codeine positive samples, followed by morphine, and fentanyl. … The buprenorphine positive group had the highest percentage of samples containing THC (20.8 percent), and hydrocodone had the lowest THC positive rate, 9.2 percent.”
While researchers acknowledged that the findings were “consistent with data from self-report surveys of medical cannabis patients” in which subjects frequently report substituting cannabis for opioids, they cautioned that the observational design of the study precluded them from “assigning causation” to their results, reports NORML.
They concluded: “Further studies will hopefully elucidate if cannabis can or should play a role