Chronic pain accounted for 62.2% of all patient-reported qualifying conditions under which USA patients sought medical marijuana, according to a new paper in Health AffairsThe research compared state registry data with evidence from the 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medical report on cannabis. According to the report, there was conclusive or substantial evidence that chronic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and multiple sclerosis (MS) spasticity symptoms were improved as a result of cannabis treatment.
"We wanted to understand the reasons why people are using cannabis medically, and whether those reasons for use are evidence-based", said lead author Kevin Boehnke. However, there are 33 states that have approved medical marijuana and 10 states where marijuana is legal for recreational use. The number of people who are using cannabis to manage their illness is growing rapidly, from 641,176 licenses in 2016 to 813,917 in 2017. The data that is collected varies widely, and some states are more stringent than others. He's an investigator at University of Michigan's Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.
However, with the available data, they found that the number of medical cannabis patients rose dramatically over time and that the vast majority - 85.5 percent - of medical cannabis license holders indicated that they were seeking treatment for an evidence-based condition, with chronic pain accounting for 62.2 percent of all patient-reported qualifying conditions.
More than 60 percent of people who use medical marijuana want to relieve chronic pain, according to a study published February in Health Affairs. However, it should be noted that people could select multiple different kinds of pain, so you shouldn't assume two-thirds of medical marijuana patients do so for chronic pain. Interestingly, the authors found that fewer than half the states had data on patient-reported qualifying conditions; just 20 reported data on the number of registered patients.
"This finding is consistent with the prevalence of chronic pain, which affects an estimated 100 million Americans", the authors state.
She told the Associated Press that on bad days, her muscles feel like they're being squeezed in a vise.
This is important because more Americans are seeking safer alternatives to opioids for pain relief. The federal government still classifies pot as a drug, however, with no now accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. More than 800,000 patients were enrolled in medical marijuana programs in 2017 in 19 states.
This study provides support for legitimate evidence-based use of medical marijuana that challenges its current federal drug status, Boehnke said.
"Since the majority of states in the USA have legalized medical cannabis, we should consider how best to adequately regulate cannabis and safely incorporate cannabis into medical practice", Boehnke said in a University of MI news release.