Photo Courtesy of Vireo Health
The study will investigate whether treatment with medical marijuana can lead to a reduction in opioid use in adults with chronic pain.
By Forum Staff
The National Institute of Health has awarded a $3.8 million research grant to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System for the first long-term study to investigate whether treatment with medical marijuana can lead to a reduction in opioid use in adults with chronic pain, Vireo Health of New York, which will be partners in the analysis, announced on Thursday.
According to Vireo, the NIH study – “Does medical cannabis reduce opioid analgesics in HIV+ and HIV- adults with pain?” – will enroll 250 HIV-positive and HIV-negative New York adults with chronic pain who use opioids and who have received certification from their physicians to use medical marijuana, which is provided through approved dispensaries in NY. Over 18 months, the study subjects will complete web-based questionnaires every two weeks, which will focus on pain levels and the medical and illicit use of marijuana and opioids. They’ll also provide urine and blood samples at in-person research visits every three months. In addition, in-depth interviews with a select group of the participants will explore their perceptions of how medical marijuana use affects the use of opioids.
“As a consultant to this study, I am eager to contribute to an improved understanding of medical marijuana safety and use in treating patients faced with debilitating pain and suffering,” said Stephen Dahmer, M.D., chief medical officer of Vireo Health, one of five companies licensed by the State to cultivate, manufacture, and dispense medical marijuana. “We are deeply appreciative of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System’s commitment to research regarding the role of medical cannabis in the opioid epidemic and the potential impact this vital research will have on our patients.”
Vireo owns and operates the city’s only medical marijuana dispensary, which is located on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.
“We applaud the NIH – a federal agency – for funding a grant which represents an innovative collaboration between State-licensed medical marijuana companies and leading healthcare and research institutions,” said Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung. “While our organization is actively engaged in numerous research initiatives, this is the first time we had the opportunity to participate in a federally-financed study.”