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Pain Drives the Use of Medical Marijuana

Feb 05, 2019 12:05 pm

A report from the University of Michigan examined state-wide medical marijuana showing most of it is used for chronic pain.

The authors include Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., Daniel J. Clauw, M.D., Rebecca L. Haffajee, Ph.D., and Saurav Gangopadhyay, M.P.H. undertook this investigation to to assess why people are using cannabis medically. 

As of 2018, 33 states and the District of Columbia have approved the medical use of cannabis, while 10 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. However, at the federal level, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, defined as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Based on their review of reports, the authors found that less than half of the states had data on patient-reported qualifying conditions and only 20 states reported data on the number of registered patients. They also found that althought the number of licensed medical users grew by 27% between 2016 and 2017 (641,176 to 813,917), thiswas likely far lower than the actual number of users.

They found that the vast majority (85.5%) medical cannabis use was for chronic pain accounting for 62.2 percent of all patient-reported qualifying conditions.

Althought pain is listed as a evidence based indication for cannibis, the evidence is scant and there is little data on safety. 

Notes Boehnke, "Since the majority of states in the U.S. have legalized medical cannabis, we should consider how best to adequately regulate cannabis and safely incorporate cannabis into medical practice."

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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