A new study found that of a group of people using state-legalized marijuana, 65% of them were using it to relieve pain, and most (80%) of them found it to be very effective. Marijuana’s medicinal abilities helped 82% of the people to reduce or stop taking over-the-counter pain medications, and 88% were able to stop taking opioid painkillers.
“Approximately 20% of American adults suffer from chronic pain, and one in three adults do not get enough sleep,” said Dr Gwen Wurm.
The study suggests that cannabis could help decrease American’s dependence on opioids for pain relief.
“People develop tolerance to opioids, which means that they require higher doses to achieve the same effect,” said Dr. Julia Arnsten. “This means that chronic pain patients often increase their dose of opioid medications over time, which in turn increases their risk of overdose.”
“In states where adult use of cannabis is legal, our research suggests that many individuals bypass the medical cannabis route (which requires registering with the state) and are instead opting for the privacy of a legal adult use,” stated Wurm.
Over-the-counter drugs can help relieve pain, but they can have serious side effects.
“Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen cause GI bleeding or kidney damage with chronic use,” Wurm noted. “Paracetemol (Acetaminophen) toxicity is the second most common cause of liver transplantation worldwide, and is responsible for 56,000 ER visits, 2600 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths per year in the U.S.”
The study authors caution that further research into marijuana is needed to better understand the health benefits and side effects.
“The challenge is that health providers are far behind in knowing which cannabis products work and which do not. Until there is more research into which cannabis products work for which symptoms, patients will do their own ‘trial and error,’ experiments, getting advice from friends, social media and dispensary employees,” Wurm said.