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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Commentary

Prescribing cannabis for harm reduction

Mark Collen

Author Affiliations, 9008 El Cajon Way, #4, Sacramento, CA, 95826, USA

Harm Reduction Journal 2012, 9:1  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-9-1

Published: 1 January 2012


Neuropathic pain affects between 5% and 10% of the US population and can be refractory to treatment. Opioids may be recommended as a second-line pharmacotherapy but have risks including overdose and death. Cannabis has been shown to be effective for treating nerve pain without the risk of fatal poisoning. The author suggests that physicians who treat neuropathic pain with opioids should evaluate their patients for a trial of cannabis and prescribe it when appropriate prior to using opioids. This harm reduction strategy may reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications.

cannabis; cannabinoids; opioids; neuropathic pain; chronic pain; harm reduction; ethics