Background: With the Canadian government legalizing cannabis in the year 2018, the potential harms to certain populations - including those with opioid use disorder - must be investigated. Cannabis is one of the most commonly used substances by patients who are engaged in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, the effects of which are largely unknown. In this study, we examine the impact of baseline and ongoing cannabis use, and whether these are impacted differentially by gender. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using anonymized electronic medical records from 58 clinics offering opioid agonist therapy in Ontario, Canada. One-year treatment retention was the primary outcome of interest and was measured for patients who did and did not have a cannabis positive urine sample in their first month of treatment, and as a function of the proportion of cannabis-positive urine samples throughout treatment. Results: Our cohort consisted of 644 patients, 328 of which were considered baseline cannabis users and 256 considered heavy users. Patients with baseline cannabis use and heavy cannabis use were at increased risk of dropout (38.9% and 48.1%, respectively). When evaluating these trends by gender, only female baseline users and male heavy users are at increased risk of premature dropout. Interpretation: Both baseline and heavy cannabis use are predictive of decreased treatment retention, and differences do exist between genders. With cannabis being legalized in the near future, physicians should closely monitor cannabis-using patients and provide education surrounding the potential harms of using cannabis while receiving treatment for opioid use disorder.
Franklyn, A. M., Eibl, J. K., Gauthier, G. J., & Marsh, D. C. (2017). The impact of cannabis use on patients enrolled in opioid agonist therapy in Ontario, Canada. PLoS ONE, 12(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187633