Chronic pain drives most medical cannabis use, study says

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 8, 2019

TUESDAY, Feb. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) - Easing chronic pain is the main reason Americans use medical marijuana, a new study finds.

The study looked to understand whether patients were using cannabis for evidence-based reasons and found that some of the qualifying conditions allowed by state laws often lack good scientific evidence.

That's followed by stiffness from multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-related nausea, according to an analysis of 15 states published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.

"The majority of patients for whom we have data are using cannabis for reasons where the science is the strongest", said lead author Kevin Boehnke of University of MI in Ann Arbor.

As of 2018, 33 states and the District of Columbia have approved the medical use of cannabis, while 10 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. But there's one medical reason people use cannabis above all others.

Chronic pain is the top reason patients are using medical marijuana, according to a new study.

Seeking to find out how Americans are using medical marijuana, researchers at the University of MI used data from state registries to identify patterns of use.

The study didn't measure whether marijuana actually helped anyone with their problems, but the patients' reasons match up with what's known about the science of marijuana and its chemical components. According to the study, the vast majority of users were seeking treatment for an evidence-based medical condition, with chronic pain accounting for 62.2% of all patient-reported qualifying conditions.

Researchers said the finding is consistent with the prevalence of chronic pain, which affects an estimated 100 million Americans.

Patients include 37-year-old Brandian Smith of Pana, Illinois, who qualifies because she has fibromyalgia. On bad days, her muscles feel like they're being squeezed in a vise. He said there needs to be more research on patient reports that marijuana provides better symptoms relief and fewer side effects, including better data on formulations and administration methods. The findings might surprise some critics who believe most people go to dispensaries to procure marijuana for recreational use.

The study authors said that as medical cannabis use continues to increase, creating a nationwide patient registry would help understand trends in use and the potential effectiveness of marijuana. Despite this fact, at the federal level, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, defined as a drug with no now accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. So even though medical marijuana may be useful in treating chronic pain, nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, and multiple sclerosis (MS) spasticity symptoms, many doctors do not have the necessary training and guidelines at their disposal to recommend this drug to their patients.

"Since the majority of states in the USA have legalized medical cannabis, we should consider how best to adequately regulate cannabis and safely incorporate cannabis into medical practice", Boehnke said.

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