Cannabis for Chronic Pain in the US

A new study shows that a lot of Americans are trying cannabis to help with long-term pain.

 

In 2019, 20.4% of adults in the US had long-term pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the last three months, 7.4% of people had chronic pain that often made it hard to live or work. Trying to treat chronic pain comes with its own problems, such as the risk of becoming addicted to opioid painkillers.

 

But a lot of Americans are looking for other things to do. A new study found that almost a third of people with chronic pain in states where medical cannabis is legal said they used it to help with their pain.

 

The study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, also found that more than half of the 1,724 adults surveyed said that using cannabis decreased their use of painkillers like prescription opioids and over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics. Less than 1% said that using cannabis made them take more of these medicines.

 

Even though it’s a good sign that cannabis can help with pain, there are still some risks involved.

 

“Our results suggest that state cannabis laws have enabled access to cannabis as an analgesic treatment despite knowledge gaps in use as a medical treatment for pain,” the study stated.

 

“The fact that patients report substituting cannabis for pain medications so much underscores the need for research on the benefits and risks of using cannabis for chronic pain,” stated Mark Bicket, M.D., Ph.D., who led the study and is an Assistant Professor in the University of Michigan’s Department of Anesthesiology and Co-Director of the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network.

 

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