Benefits of marijuana for pain relief are not clear-cut, study suggests

Benefits of marijuana for pain relief are not clear-cut, study suggests

Cannabis use disorder more common in adults with pain Daily marijuana use was reported by 45 percent of the sample, and 48 percent said they used three or more times per day. The percentage of participants who used marijuana every day did not differ by pain categories. But about 60 percent of those who reported high pain used the drug three or more times a day, compared to 51 percent of those with moderate pain and 39 percent of those in the low-pain group. Findings showed no association between daily marijuana use and change in health status among those with low levels of pain. But daily marijuana use was linked to worsening health status among those reporting high levels of pain. However, strangely, there was no association between how often participants used marijuana per day and changes in health status. There's no easy explanation for this, Freisthler said. "It shows how little we know about marijuana as medicine, how people are using it, the dosages they are receiving and its long-term effects," she said. People use marijuana for a variety of different types of pain, including cancer, joint pain, HIV and nerve pain. Researchers don't know if marijuana has different effects on different causes of pain, Cooke said. "Chronic pain is also associated with depression and anxiety. Marijuana may help with these problems for some people, even if it doesn't help with the pain," she said. In addition, marijuana use seems to help people who have lost their appetite due to pain or nausea caused by cancer drugs. "It may not be the pain that patients are trying to address," Cooke said. The results do suggest we need to know more about the link between marijuana and pain relief, Freisthler said. "Particularly since the opioid crisis, some people have been touting marijuana as a good substitute for opioids for people in pain," she said. "But our study suggests we don't know that marijuana is helping to address pain needs." Source: Ohio State University Journal reference: Cooke, A., et al. (2020) The relationships between chronic pain and changes in health with cannabis consumption patterns. International Journal of Drug Policy . doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.102657 .



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