Federal Study to Enroll New York State Medical Marijuana Patients
The National Institute of Health has awarded a $3.8 million research grant to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System for medical marijuana research, and Vireo Health of New York will be partners in the study. This grant is 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.
“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 Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health New York. “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.”
“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. “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.”
“As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective healthcare practices and public policies," said says Chinazo Cunningham, M.D., M.S., associate chief of general internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore and principal investigator on the grant. “We look forward to working with Vireo Health and their patients on this study.”
The NIH study will enroll 250 HIV-positive and HIV-negative 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 New York State. 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 these participants will explore their perceptions of how medical marijuana use affects the use of opioids.