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Pot For Pain: The Verdict Is In

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 28, 2011

    [Editor's note: This post is excerpted from this week's forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML's media advisories and legislative updates delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for 'NORML News' here.]

    Cannabis inhalation and the administration of cannabinoids are both associated with “significant analgesic effects” in the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain, according to a systemic review of randomized controlled trials to be published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

    Investigators from the University of Toronto, Hospital for Sick Children, conducted a literature review regarding the efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and mixed chronic pain. Eighteen randomized controlled trials published between 2003 and 2010 involving a total of 766 participants met inclusion criteria. Four of the trials assessed inhaled cannabis, while other studies assessed the analgesic properties of either plant-derived cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoids.

    “Overall the quality of trials was excellent,” authors wrote. “Fifteen of the eighteen trials that met inclusion criteria demonstrated a significant analgesic effect of cannabinoid as compared to placebo, several reported significant improvements in sleep. There were no serious adverse effects.”

    Researchers noted that all four trials involving inhaled cannabis “found a positive effect with no serious adverse side effects.” They added: “Of special importance is the fact that two of the trials examining smoked cannabis demonstrated a significant analgesic effect in HIV neuropathy, a type of pain that has been notoriously resistant to other treatments normally used for neuropathic pain. In the trial examining cannabis based medicines in rheumatoid arthritis a significant reduction in disease activity was also noted, this is consistent with pre-clinical work demonstrating that cannabinoids are anti-inflammatory.”

    Investigators concluded, “[C]annabinoids are a modestly effective and safe treatment option for chronic non-cancer (predominantly neuropathic) pain. Given the prevalence of chronic pain, its impact on function and the paucity of effective therapeutic interventions, additional treatment options are urgently needed. More large-scale trials of longer duration reporting on pain and level of function are required.”

    NORML has additional information on the analgesic properties of cannabinoids in its handbook, Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids, here.

    37 Responses to “Pot For Pain: The Verdict Is In”

    1. When you’re young, you support medicinal marijuana because you like to smoke it. You know you’re getting old when you actually smoke it to live through pain :)

      All kidding aside, I recently recovered from surgery and it would have been hell without cannabis. Only once did I take one of the nauseating & dangerously addictive, yet completely legal painkillers subscribed to me. Instead I stayed comfortably in bed and smoked all natural, non-addictive (yet, still illegal) marijuana.

      All Americans that are sick and in pain deserve this option.

    2. katiespaw says:

      facts facts facts time and time again this information has been reported the powers that be pay no attn. when is it going to stop. when it is to late for another generation?

    3. fishcreekbob says:

      Pot for pain Hell I could have told you that.

    4. Pain-fully Stressed says:

      ok, so now what? its amazing news, but now what?

    5. True American says:

      DONT BE FOOLED:

      Marijuana has never been furhter away than it is right now from being legalized. The main reason? The medical marijuana community…ironic yes I hate to admit but none-the-less true. That community has shown the corporate suits at the Pharm companies that there is mucho grande $$$$ to be made. As seen here in a recent post the THC in the plant has been reduced to Sched 3 while the plant itself remains a Sched 1. This allows the Pharm companies to legally do research while keeping the plant out of the public hands. Things being the way they are today with the relative inactivity of the public in the political arena I dont see the legalization of marijuana anytime soon; but I do see the mass exploitation of the plant into a product.

      BTW: Hope Im wrong about this…..Meh

    6. Marika says:

      I am very happy to hear about these trials. They aren’t telling me anything I don’t already know, I have been using cannabis for neuropathic pain for years. Also for help with anti-inflammation. Now we just have to convince the lawmakers!

    7. 3141 - Brethren of the Genesist Faith. says:

      Well! will wonders never cease to amaze me. At my next CDXX Communion – I will pray for the misguided souls of those [complete and total idiots] that take pride in being a prohibitionist. If anyone ever needed a prayer it’s surely them. I hope they have good enough sense to repent for their evil transgressions. On the other hand – when I think of all of my brethren that have suffered so much at their hands – 15,000 abandoned mines in the state of Nevada immediately comes to mind – but then – that thought puts me on their level. Shame on me!

    8. Nick says:

      The verdict was in a long time ago. Most people don’t realize that there are very few options for moderately severe and severe pain; having a chronic disease, I know. Other than medications derived from opium, there are almost zero safe and reliable options. Those who cannot use opiates for one reason or another (i.e. allergic reaction, side effects, history of opiate dependence, etc) need to have an alternative readily available.

    9. a quiet man says:

      well the next step should be Educate the rest of the people who do not know any of this .
      politicians that rant about how dangerous cannabis is should be the first target then the rabid media who support them could do with a little education if this story had said cannabis was bad you can be sure it would be on the 24 hr news over and over because it says its a good medicine nobody will hear about this report other than those that already know the truth

    10. Bill says:

      I got hit by a car last month and came out with some bruises and cartilage damage and pain in my knee, ankle and wrist. It was hard to walk around and I could barely write with a pen.

      I could have gotten opiates for the pain, but I’m a student. I can’t take opiates every day and make it through classes! First of all, I wouldn’t go. Second, if I did go, I wouldn’t stay awake!

      Fortunately, I can use cannabis, the fast acting, long lasting, pain reliever that makes you feel great without feeling stupefied. With cannabis to relieve my pain, I can happily pay attention, study, take tests, wake up early, and do everything I need to do.

      With such awesome benefits, does anyone wonder why people flout the law? I’m not taking their poison pills. No one else should have to either unless they want them.

    11. Chris in WI says:

      I am fearful of the job prohibitionists have already done to intertwine our drug policies with international treaties.

      Even with this flood of new knowledge; if the administration, behind closed doors, started looking at how to make weed either less restrictive or legal, they will be inclined to stop when they realize how immense this task will truly be!

    12. Ap0c says:

      I personally have neuropathic pain in my back. Methadone allows me to live a more norml life. I’ve known long before this study of the analgesic properties of cannabis. It’s great to read a study that relates to me so closely. Neuropathic pain is extremely resistant to even the most potent pain medicines. This is great news for everyone in my position. Now legalize it for at the very least people suffering with any condition

    13. Ap0c says:

      True American you speak the truth brother. We must take what is ours

    14. [...] NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and Enjoy: [...]

    15. TheOracle says:

      British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

      Great Britain and the United States can hold hands into legalization. They do it going off on military campaigns in the cannabis production countries of the Middle East and North Africa. International legalization gives control of the world trade in cannabis to the Anglo-American alliance and their allies, and trading in U.S. dollars, it creates instant jobs and better quality and safety controls. Afghanistan is famous for its indica strains and hashish.

      Control it from Morocco to Afghanistan. Involve India, Thailand, South Africa, Australia and Polynesia. Pan American highway weigh stations, and revival of the sativa varieties, gold and red, like Acapulco Gold, Colombian Gold, and Panama Red. Red Lebanese hash, Afghani, Hawaiian, etc. All the old cliche types.

    16. Matt says:

      Awesome information that ISN’T from the United States and will thus be entirely ignored by our government.

    17. Nic says:

      4 ok, so now what? its amazing news, but now what?

      Take them out and eviscerate them, hang them in the S un, let the birds pick the rotting flesh, so that such evil disgusting minds and souls may be forgotten in the pits of Eternal Hell.

    18. johnny says:

      thats great made in thirty five years the feds will reconize this study.

    19. [...] full post on NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and [...]

    20. connie says:

      don’t humans deserve the right to treat themselves better than the animals we call PETS? I myself have never used the weed, but if it worked for me, I would use it

    21. [...] NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and Enjoy: [...]

    22. Sean Haddad says:

      We all need to be optimistic and be POTimistic. We need to believe in weed being legal one day. Hopefully soon. We need to be stronger in this and show more support ever! For everyone who thinks weed will never be legal it’s because your not willing to write more letters, vote on more internet polls and look past the things that make it seem illegal like greed and chuches opposing because there are ways around that. If you write back saying “Oh he’s full of it” or ” It’s never gonna be legal” while you sit there like a complete loser than you are pesimistic. I know it will become legal and I want everyone to think the same, no matter whos against it or how hard it looks to legalize weed. Heres my slogan for my optmistic views. LETS BE POTIMISTIC!!

    23. Nic says:

      It was about 120 years ago, when the people came out and hung kings and queens, the guillotine’s were busy chopping the heads off that same aristocracy it is time to examine our social systems, I say Free Cannabis

    24. thefixer says:

      Robert Mueller is a DOUCHEBAG

    25. http://www.practicaltoker.com/?p=352
      ‘Scientific Integrity? We Don’t Need No Scientific Integrity!’

      As soon as I heard this I wrote a blog piece on it and Stumbled, Twitted, Shared, and Dug this article to spread the word.

      What our government is doing is nothing but killing us with disinformation, half truths, and deception.

    26. Mickyshell says:

      I’ve had back problems all my life , had to where braces @night when I was a child. I have scolious and no curve in my neck and now that I’m older nerve pain , to the point where I was having muscle spams and vomiting 3-4days a week ! I tried taking pharm stuff with little releaf and terrible side affect !! So I’ll have 2 say to anybody is this : This is my body I choose to go natural ,I choose not to live with side effects and if you don’t like it you can KMA !

    27. 3141 - Brethren of the Genesist Faith . says:

      Maybe we should “follow the lead” of women – who have sovereignty over their body. If women have the right to delete – we all should have the same right to input. If it’s just a matter of law – let’s get to it!

    28. Nick B. says:

      Years back I had dental problems and found myself in the E.R. the doctor gave me narcotic pain pills. Well after that forget it I was hooked. Waking up everyday and only thinking about how to get more pills! That was my living hell. After putting myself into rehab and cleaning up I worked with a doctor who after some testing and stuff basically said I was self medicating for being Bipolar and had also been suffering from bipolar depression. Which then on as much as 800mg of seroquel a day,20mg saphris a day, and 60mg of celexa a day. Now all this medicine I put on almost 100 pounds and was a zombie 24 hours a day plus all the horrable side effects, and I could only amagine the damage it was doing to my body that i didn’t know about. Basically it makes me so angry that they can give you all these cemicals to put in your body and then ook at this amazing natural plant that can help people with different problems with out the high risks and criminalize the amarican public for making a safer choice in what the put in their bodies. Come on people wake up. It’s up to us to educate our neighbors and our communities that cannabis is the safer choice and is our choice not our government nobody should have the right to keep us from a natural resource. Oh and also I have smoked cannabis before but haven’t put any mind controlling substance in my body in years, but when I deside to medicate or relax and unwind it won’t be with prescriptions, or with alcohol these substances kill people not cannabis!

    29. Sergeant Patches says:

      Cannabis is becoming legal. We need to get the truth out there faster to be successful in legalizing marijuana. All of us who side with NORML know so much about cannabis. We know it is medicine. We know it is not toxic. We know it is morally sane. We even know the fiber of it can be used patriotically. We know cannabis is one of the most useful plants on earth. The more people who know this, the better. Let everyone you know know that cannabis is natural, and we should not condemn people for making use of a plant.

      The only real block from legalization, is silence from fear, that’s when propaganda thrives. I think many of us would speak up more if we knew that we didn’t have to be afraid of speaking about it with peers or politicians, or educating the masses.

    30. Jason says:

      Please put all of your seeds in your bird feeders. This will end the war against cannabis medicine globally. Cannabis is our medicine given to us by GOD ALMIGHTY! Let GOD provide the solution. Just let his wonderful birds spread the truth.Spread the word please to anyone you know that can help. Sow a seed, you & I…we will reap the harvest. We are GOD’S Children.

    31. stroker says:

      the government knows exactly what marajuana is all about it makes you COOL. just what they dont want you to be.

    32. stroker says:

      does anyone ever mention (besides what we hear in music lyrics) the social benifits of pot. some of my most fond memorys are of the small groups of people together (usually in some unpopular spot) shareing a joint, the reaching out, the touching someone,the laughter. i have never heard any one mention how this also affects society, something we all need so much. surely this benifit cannot be overlooked

    33. tdub says:

      the best thing is when you have the flu,and you ache all over,you dont feel like moving and it takes the aching feeling away, so you can at least get up and move around and you dont feel like crap!!!

    34. Mr.Cot. says:

      I work at a dispensary and I love the fact that I help people cope with suffering whatever form it is. i have had an l5/s1 surg on my spine and can assure you its no joke. Unless you have really suffered , you may not know how much of a blessing it can be to be allowed to use cannibus. I hope the world can see its not all stoners and kids trying to just rebel and light up.
      Take care!

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