Marijuana Is Not A Silver Bullet for Chronic Pain Management

A study was recently published in Lancet Public Health that seemed to show that marijuana might not be the wonder drug for pain we once thought. The large study, conducted by the team from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center (NDARC), followed 1,514 people already participating in another long-term study over four years to see if medicinal cannabis use would decrease pain levels or prescribed opioid use.

The results were unexpected. The team found that while most chronic pain patients surveyed perceived that the marijuana helped, their reported pain levels actually increased over the course of four years. The team also found that these patients reported higher levels of anxiety as well.

The team notes that perhaps the benefits of medical marijuana is the powerful sedative effect it has – the marijuana allowed patients a restful night’s sleep and therefore were better equipped to handle their pain levels.

Of course, this does cast doubt upon the efficacy of marijuana’s analgesic effect, especially for non-cancer pain. The director of NDARC, Professor Michael Farrell, said, “People who otherwise wouldn’t have gone near cannabis have been experimenting with it.” Cautious patients should think twice about using cannabis to relieve pain, especially if it is not the highly regulated, medicinal strains.