Study: Daily Cannabis Use For Chronic Pain Is Safe, Effective

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 21, 2015

    Chronic pain patients who use herbal cannabis daily for one-year report reduced discomfort and increased quality of life compared to controls, and do not experience an increased risk of serious side effects, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pain.

    Researchers at McGill University in Montreal assessed the long-term health of 216 medicinal cannabis users with chronic non-cancer pain who consumed a daily standardized dose (12.5 percent THC) of herbal cannabis compared to 215 controls (chronic pain suffers who did not use cannabis). Subjects in study were approved by Health Canada to legally use medicinal cannabis and consumed, on average, 2.5 grams of herb per day, typically via inhalation or vaporization.

    Investigators reported that daily cannabis consumers possessed no greater risk than non-users to experience “serious adverse events.” Specifically, researchers identified no significant adverse changes in consumers’ cognitive skills, pulmonary function, or blood work following one-year of daily cannabis consumption. Medical cannabis consumers did report elevated risk of experiencing “non-serious adverse events” (e.g., cough, dizziness, paranoia) compared to controls; however, authors classified these to be “mild to moderate.”

    Pain patients who used cannabis reported a reduced sense of pain compared to controls, as well as reduced anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

    “Quality-controlled herbal cannabis, when used by cannabis-experienced patients as part of a monitored treatment program over one year, appears to have a reasonable safety profile,” authors concluded.

    The study is one of the first to ever assess the long-term safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis. A prior health review of patients receiving medical cannabis monthly from the US federal government as part of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program similarly reported that cannabis possesses therapeutic efficacy and an acceptable side-effect profile.

    Full text of the study, “Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study,” appears online here.

    25 responses to “Study: Daily Cannabis Use For Chronic Pain Is Safe, Effective”

    1. mexweed says:

      2.5 grams is 100 single tokes (25 mg each) in a screened-quarter-inch-diameter-crater one-hitter. Or do those patients roll five (5) H(ot)B(urning)O(verdose)M(onoxide) Joaints?

    2. Julian says:

      @Don E.
      Thanks for the warning! ?

    3. bongstar420 says:

      They are recommending 35 doses a day…since when is 35 doses a day “effective?”

      Also, my patients all uniformly demand that quantity no matter what their conditions are…and they always pick the most recreationally valuable stuff.

    4. Mark I. says:

      The use of cannabis as medication has me 23 years past my dd. Doing this in the closet blessed me with six children and many more grandchildren. If anyone knows, it is because they ask how and stay for the answer. If physicians could figure out how to replace their cash cow known as big pharma, cannabis would be the base element in prescription medication instead of petrol-chemical byproducts.

    5. Eric says:

      I’m able to run again because of medical cannabis. After developing bleeding ulcers from too many prescription anti-inflammatories I’m now pain free and running as well as I ever have after switching to cannabis. Oh yeah, no addiction to opiates either.

    6. lockedoutofmyshed says:

      I have had had eleven surgical procedures in my life. the first three I was young and took pain meds for discomfort. when I began consuming cannabis and had a procedure , I found I did not want to fill the prescription because they made me feel like total shit! so instead I tried using cannabis and found great benefit from it. sure their was discomfort but, my ability to tolerate it was much enhanced with cannabis. never filled another prescription after that! I swear by it and no one can ever tell me any different…..

    7. rick says:

      I too have suffered through multiple surgeries and follow up therapies that always include the use of opiates to help with the pain that always follows. I wish I could use some good smoke instead of those damned poison opiates. Is there any way to use marijuana instead of the same old crap that kills me slowly as has been proven? I want out of the opiate addiction that constantly fillows a surgery? Someone needs to help ….PLEASE???????

    8. blkdmd says:

      As a veteran with several injuries when I visit my friends in a state where medical use is legal, I have no need for my pain meds from the VA for the month I am there

    9. Willie says:

      I’ve been RX’d high doses of opiates for almost a decade for chronic pain, and it has worked very well overall. A year ago I discovered medical cannabis. I was able to reduce the amount of opiates, and felt better in every way: less pain, better mood, less sedation. And lesser physical dependence.

      My Kaiser Dr suddenly came up with a “pain contract” that prohibits use of “illegal drugs” including cannabis. I wasn’t too worried as medical cannabis is legal in our state, hardly an “illegal drug”. He said sorry he had to make me sign this, he didn’t believe in it, or urine testing. A few months later he said sorry, you have to submit to a urine screen. I asked about cannabis and he said that was definitely banned. It’s obvious that he knows nothing about it, and I can’t risk trying to inform him. I was able to stall long enough to pass, as I was vaping small amounts.

      But without the cannabis I had to return to higher opiate doses. I felt abused, treated like a criminal, I lost faith in my Dr. and sank into depression. I’m now afraid to use the cannabis that had worked such wonders, as I can’t risk being left with no meds. What’s next? I feel like a dog that’s been kicked and beaten.

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