Study: Majority Of Medical Cannabis Patients Are Seeking Pain Relief

MICHIGAN: Most US patients registered to access medical cannabis cite chronic pain as their primary qualifying condition, according to data published in the journal Health Affairs.

Investigators from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor reviewed patient registration data from the majority of states that provide medical cannabis access. (Some states, notably California and Maine, possess voluntary registries and therefore do not compile patient profile data.)

They reported that in 2016, chronic pain was the most common qualifying condition reported by patients (65 percent). They added, “Of all patient-reported qualifying conditions, 85 percent had either substantial or conclusive evidence of therapeutic efficacy,” as defined by the 2017 report published by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The authors of that report concluded that there exists conclusive or substantial evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, and spasticity.

Separate studies indicate that legal cannabis access is typically associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse. Studies have also identified a reduction in the prevalence of opioid-related mortality following statewide marijuana access.

Authors concluded: “[O]ur data show that the number of medical cannabis patients has risen dramatically over time as more states have legalized medical cannabis. … [W]e believe not only that it is inappropriate for cannabis to remain a Schedule I substance, but also that state and federal policy makers should begin evaluating evidence-based ways for safely integrating cannabis research and products into the health care system.”


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Qualifying conditions of medical cannabis license holders in the United States,” appears in Health Affairs. Additional information is available in NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.”

New Study: Cannabis: Safe & Effective Medical Treatment

NEW YORK: For the first time, a major scientific study has confirmed what cannabis advocates have known for decades: that cannabis can be a safe and effective palliative treatment in patients suffering from the debilitating effects of cancer.

The article, “Prospective Analysis Of Safety And Efficacy Of Medical Cannabis In Large Unselected Population Of Patients With Cancer” just published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, studied thousands of cancer patients at Tikun Olam clinics in Israel.  The patients were prescribed cannabis for their “malignancy-related symptoms,” mainly sleep problems, pain, nausea, and decreased appetite. All patients were prescribed one or more of Tikun Olam’s proprietary cannabis strains, which were developed to address specific symptoms. Overall, the study encompassed 2,970 cancer patients, with an average age of 60,  and treated between  the years 2015 and 2017.

Tikun Olam published the following: 95.9% of respondents reported an improvement in their condition through use of medical cannabis, leading the study’s authors to conclude that “Cannabis as a palliative treatment for cancer patients is a well-tolerated, effective and safe option.” In medical terms, palliative treatment in cancer patients is aimed mainly to alleviate pain and nausea.

The article also offers hope in the fight against the U.S. opioid epidemic. While opioids were the most consumed drug by patients at intake, at six months, 36% had stopped taking opioids entirely, and an additional 10% decreased their dosage. This is especially significant because 51% of the patients studied were suffering from Stage 4 cancers, and 52% reported their pain at an intense (8/10) level.

“The data establishes that cannabis is effective treatment for the most acute symptoms of cancer, such as pain, which often requires the use of opioids,” said  Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider of Tikun Olamand lead author of the article.

Side effects were sparse and minor: the most common reported at one month were dizziness (8%), dry mouth (7.3%), increased appetite (3.6%), sleepiness (3.3%) and psychoactive effect (2.8%).

On the other hand, improvement was undisputed: at six months, 50.8% of respondents reported at least a significant improvement, 45.1% reported moderate or slight improvement and only 4.0% did not experience a positive effect.

Tikun Olam’s Pharmaceuticals division (TOP) along with its Canadian joint venture partner, Jay Pharma, as well as  Israel’s Soroka University Medical Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem were proud to collaborate together for this unprecedented affirmation by the scientific community of the efficacy of medical marijuana.