Studies continue to emerge showing that medical cannabis can help fight opioid addiction in patients. With less side effects and just about the same pain relief, more doctors are turning to marijuana to help those experiencing chronic pain.
No One Wants Opioids Anymore
Khiron, a global medical cannabis company, has been providing clinical evidence of the benefits of medical cannabis throughout Latin America and Europe to help spread the news and get more patients off of opioids. Via its Zerenia clinic innovation, the company has launched a major education platform engaging patients with alternative methods to treat a variety of issues from chronic pain to neurological pathologies, palliative care, rheumatology, psychiatry, geriatrics, endocrinology, gastroenterology, gynecology, otorhinolaryngology, and dermatology. Medical cannabis is becoming the accepted clinical alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals.
“We are seeing it through our patients and the changes that they are experiencing from moving from something dangerous to more natural,” Alvaro Torres, Founder and CEO of Khiron, said. “We see it every day, which is why not only my company, but also others, are convincing more and more doctors and patients to switch to medical marijuana. Nobody wants opioids.”
Medical Marijuana vs Opioids
Khiron has opened their own medical clinics throughout Latin America and Europe to not only give patients easier access to medical cannabis, but also to educate both patients and doctors about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. According to data from their clinics, almost 75 percent of patients are looking for help for chronic pain.
“With cannabis, you have to think about the quality of life. It is not just about curing pain, because pain is very difficult to cure, but you are trying to treat the patient to make them feel better holistically,” Torres said. “When we look at patients who are switching to cannabis, sometimes it is not necessarily to help them get rid of all of their opioids, but just to stop taking some of them. When taking opioids, it can cause you not to be able to function as a human being, and cannabis is one of the best ways for them to still be able to function.”
In a 2021 survey of medical cannabis patients in California who used cannabis as a substitute/in conjunction with opioid-based pain medication, 80 percent found that cannabis was more effective than opioids for pain, and 92 percent that the side effects of cannabis were more tolerable than opioids. Pain medication (67%), antidepressants (25%), and arthritis medication (21%) were the most common types of drugs replaced with cannabis.
Giving Patients Access to Medical Marijuana
Founded five years ago with the objective of driving the medical cannabis industry in Europe and Latin America, Torres started Khiron to help improve the quality of life for patients. The reason they are focusing on the European and Latin American markets is because it is difficult for patients to get access to medical marijuana in these regions.
“Patients have all of these questions that the government cannot answer, which is why we decided that we needed to establish our own network of clinics. This needs to be built from the ground up because even if you can educate patients on cannabis and pharmaceutical standards, the biggest problem is the access,” Torres said. “This is the biggest challenge that particularly Latin American and UK patients have.”
Educating Both Governments & Patients
With Khiron’s medical clinics and pharmacies, they are easily able to collect data on medical cannabis in patients, educate the patients, then bring the evidence to the governments to show them the results and how they can give more access to patients. Even though medical cannabis is legal in many European and Latin American areas, it all boils down to not having access because of no medical coverage and high price points. With enough effort, little by little, more areas will begin to offer easier access to medical marijuana — which is Khiron’s ultimate goal.
“I do think medical cannabis will become more popular in Latin America and Europe over the next few years,” Torres said. “The new government of Columbia now wants to make adult-use marijuana legal, and both Germany and Brazil are opening up to the medical cannabis industry. We just recently opened a new clinic in Brazil, and the more the government understands the positive experiences that can come from this, the more they can help to lower the cost of healthcare and improve patients’ quality of lives. I am very excited about the future because we are just in the early stages and it is no longer taboo to talk about medical marijuana.”