Cannabis may be as effective as opioids in treating neuropathy, new survey says

cannabis and pills cannabis opioids neuropathy

The American opioid crisis continues to be a major concern. People are increasingly seeking alternatives to mainstream pharmaceutical painkillers to avoid potential addiction and a laundry list of side effects. 

For the millions of Americans suffering from neuropathy, cannabis may offer relief. According to a newly released survey from NuggMD, the plant may be as effective as opiates in reducing neuropathic pain.

Neuropathy is a nervous system disorder that is expressed in a variety of ways. It may lead to a tingling or burning sensation, numbness, muscle weakness, sensitivity to touch, or decreased motor control. There are dozens of types of neuropathy, and it’s estimated that over 20 million Americans have some form of the condition.

But could cannabis be the answer?

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Survey says…

A team from NuggMD, a company that connects potential medical marijuana patients with qualifying physicians, recently conducted an analysis on cannabis for neuropathy. They reached out to 603 patients who were not compensated for their participation in the survey.

Of the 603 people, 248 said cannabis was their primary treatment for neuropathic pain. A further 355 indicated cannabis is their secondary treatment. The ages of the participants ranged from 18 to over 75, but most were between 45 and 64. 50.4% of participants identified as male and 48.4% as female.

The respondents were asked to rate their pain levels on a scale of one to ten before and after consuming cannabis. According to the survey, “the average pain level before cannabis use was 7.64, while the average pain level after cannabis use was 3.44.”

This means that, on average, patients had their pain reduced by 4.2 when using medical marijuana. It’s important to note that the methods of consumption varied among participants; some inhaled cannabis, while others took edibles or used topicals.

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Comparisons between cannabis and opioids promising

The pain reduction levels mirrored the results of a similar study on the effectiveness of opioids in treating neuropathy. In that survey, 411 emergency room patients with acute pain in extremities had an average reported pain level of 8.7 on an 11-point scale. 

They were given one of four combinations of medication to ease the pain. On average, the patients reported the following pain decreases using the one to 11 scale:

  • 4.3 with ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • 4.4 with oxycodone and acetaminophen
  • 3.5 with hydrocodone and acetaminophen
  • 3.9 with codeine and acetaminophen

The comparison shows that cannabis may be just as effective in easing neuropathic pain as opiate painkillers. While it’s not definitive proof, it does correlate with other anecdotal evidence and shows the need for further study.

In the published survey, the NuggMD pointed to a lack of research into cannabis for neuropathy and chided the quality of plant material used in previous trials. They also believe that a lack of states listing neuropathy as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana and an underreporting of symptoms as other barriers.

The results of the NuggMD survey are another example of the therapeutic potential of the cannabis plant. As federal marijuana legalization looms, more studies on marijuana are likely on their way. The findings of this future research could open the door for new ways to fight the ongoing opioid crisis.


rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter