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Long-Term Marijuana Use Associated With Improved Pain Relief, Reduced Opioid Use


pharmacy medical marijuana michiganBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

The long-term, daily use of cannabis is associated with improved analgesia and reduced opioid use in patients with treatment-resistant chronic pain conditions, according to clinical trial data reported online ahead of print in The Clinical Journal of Pain.

Investigators with Hebrew University in Israel evaluated the use of cannabis on pain in a cohort of 176 patients, each of whom had been previously unresponsive to all conventional pain medications. Subjects inhaled THC-dominant cannabis daily (up to 20 grams per month) for a period of at least six months.

A majority of participants (66 percent) experienced improvement in their pain symptom scores after cannabis therapy, and most reported “robust” improvements in their quality of life. Subjects’ overall consumption of opioid drugs declined 44 percent by the end of the trial, and a significant percentage of participants discontinued opioid therapy altogether over the course of the study.

Authors concluded, “In summary, this long-term prospective cohort suggests that cannabis treatment in a mixed group of patients with treatment-resistant chronic pain may result in improved pain, sleep and quality of life outcomes, as well as reduced opioid use.”

The Israeli results are similar to those reported in a 2015 Canadian trial which concluded that chronic pain patients who use herbal cannabis daily for one-year experienced reduced discomfort and increased quality of life compared to controls, and did not possess an increased risk of serious side effects.

According to data published in 2014 in The Journal of the American Medical Association, US states with medical marijuana laws experience far fewer opiate-related deaths than do states that prohibit the plant. Investigators from the RAND Corporation and the University of California, Irvine reported similar findings in 2015, concluding, “States permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.” Clinical data published in 2011 in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics previously reported that the administration of vaporized cannabis “safely augments the analgesic effect of opioids.”

A review published earlier this year in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia assessing the clinical use of cannabinoids for pain in over 1,300 subjects concludes, “Overall, the recent literature supports the idea that currently available cannabinoids are modestly effective analgesics that provide a safe, reasonable therapeutic option for managing chronic non-cancer-related pain and possibly cancer-related pain.”

An abstract of the study, “The effect of medicinal cannabis on pain and quality of life outcomes in chronic pain: A prospective open-label study,” appears online here.

Source: NORML - make a donation


About Author

Johnny Green


  1. Yes. I’m “Scientist” on the NYT. Google “NYT reschedule” and look at the comments section in the article on Eric Holder. I tried to post a reply with a link to it but got a “Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by The Weed Blog”

  2. saynotohypocrisy on

    Do you post comments with the NY Times/Washington Post/Wall Street Journal? A lot of powerful people read those sites and they need to constantly hear what you have to say until they pay decent attention. I don’t think people like me exist in their eyes, but they would have a harder time dehumanizing you.

  3. Now I’m not going to follow up on Johnny’s research here, but I like this part; ”Subjects inhaled THC-dominant cannabis daily”. If that’s true, that would be some ammo to fight the Prohibitionist trolls. ”You hippie addicts just want to support your habit and there’s no medical benefits”. Is what we hear constantly.
    To those Prohibitionists that are willing to read and learn from published studies, you may want to provide them with the latest Granny Storm Crow’s list. Here’s the link-

  4. … and just for some salt in the proverbial wound, as I have stated earlier, OUR government STILL spends our paycheck income on trying to find something “dangerous” about it. The scam / slam / sham campaign is STILL being employed by those whose allegiance is with BIG ALCOHOL, BIG TOBACCO, BIG PHARMA AND BIG PRISON.
    There’s the elephant we fight — and are slowly making headway.

  5. saynotohypocrisy on

    Don’t forget the cops/courts/prison/supervision/rehab/drug education industrial complex, or the role of hard shell religion and other assorted control freaks who just get off from shoving their fist in other people’s face.

  6. Worse, they know it is true, they just are bought out and do not care. They sold their souls for money, basically.

  7. The irony with respect to Marijuana is almost beyond comprehension.

    Prohibition 2.0 destroys lives (see http://www.leap.cc — Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) and Medical Marijuana saves lives — especially the lives of Children with Seizures and Cancer Victims.

    Google Marijuana Therapeutic Index

    Marijuana safer than Tylenol, but its illegal in 27 states, and is on Schedule 1, when Cocaine and Meth are Schedule 2, and Physicians in all 50 states can prescribe Fentaynl Lollypops which are effectively Candy Flavored Heroin on a stick.

  8. Please call the white house comment line at (202) 456-1111 and politely ask that they ask the President to get Marijuana removed from Schedule 1 immediately. Countless Americans are suffering and dying, needlessly, especially Children with Seizure disorders for whom its the only medicine that works and literally a matter of life and death, and Cancer Patients for whom it is a true “Wonder Drug” especially for the horrors of Chemotherapy and for helping survive Cancer Pain.

  9. They are bought and paid for by BIG PHARMA, BIG TOBACCO and BIG ALCOHOL. Do you see a pattern here?

  10. The Feds will never believe the study, They would rather believe an 80 year old movie called Reefer Madness and racist stereotypes

  11. saynotohypocrisy on

    Including Congress, Obama and the courts. Here are 4 studies showing cannabis has use as a pain medicine and substitute/partial substitute for opiates, but Congress and the Prez insist it’s not medicine, and the courts cheer them on.

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