Dr. James Feeney is doing something incredible for cannabis medicine. He hopes to end the opiate epidemic by bluntly showing the effectiveness of cannabis over pharmaceutical alternatives.

Dr. Feeney is a surgeon and Director of Trauma Services at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford Connecticut. With his research partner Dr. David Shapiro, they approached the St. Francis administration, including the legal team and the chief of surgery with a proposal to test cannabis in direct competition with opioids.

No one objected, despite St. Francis being a Catholic hospital.

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center: Hartford, CT.

So they took the proposal to St. Francis Hospital’s parent company, Trinity Health. According to Feeney, Trinity Health was supportive, and even wondered why they were not already conducting cannabis exams. Feeney describes the overall feelings revealed by those conversations: “Anybody that takes even a cursory look at the medical literature understands that this could be used to replace opiate pain medication.”

Dr. James Feeney (source)

Feeney first began seriously considering cannabis for his patients after multiple patients refused opioids, and said they would just use cannabis instead. After hearing this anecdotal information first-hand, and witnessing the positive reactions, Dr. Feeney felt the need to conduct a study.

Due to the current climate for cannabis in traditional medicine, Feeney had to secure external funding for the study. He proposed that he and his partner examine the effects of cannabis on acute pain, because a substantial amount of information already pointed to the efficacy of cannabis for chronic pain (15 studies).

An important aspect of Feeney’s study is that medical cannabis is already legal in Connecticut, meaning he and St. Francis can refrain from prescribing or distributing the Schedule I substance. This allows the doctors to conduct research without having to jump through the hoops of establishing approval for clinical trials.

Patients who already have their cards can elect to take place in the study, which allows them to choose opioids or cannabis to control their acute pain.

So far, every participant has chosen cannabis. Of course, all of the patients in the study have an existing familiarity with cannabis, but the fact that they choose cannabis over opioids when doctors give them the option is incredibly positive, and may change medical opinions across the country if the trend persists.

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