Chronic Pain is Top Reason Patients Use Medical Marijuana

Why Are More Americans Using Medical Marijuana?

Most Americans with a medical marijuana license use it to treat an evidence-based condition

"We did this study because we wanted to understand the reasons why people are using cannabis medically, and whether those reasons for use are evidence based", says lead author Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.

Boehnke and his colleagues examined data from a 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on medical use of marijuana (cannabis).

That's followed by stiffness from multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-related nausea, according to an analysis of 15 states published Monday in the journal Health Affairs. They noted that around two-thirds of the reasons cited for using medical marijuana involved chronic pain. 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.

According to the study, about 85 percent of medical marijuana users' reasons for consuming cannabis is supported by "substantial or conclusive" evidence that the drug can help treat their conditions. The data that is collected varies widely, and some states are more stringent than others.

Seeking to find out how Americans are using medical marijuana, researchers at the University of MI used data from state registries to identify patterns of use.

Though the number of registered US medical marijuana patients rose from more than 641,000 in 2016 to almost 814,000 in 2017, researchers said that's likely far lower than the actual number of users.

Chronic pain is the top reason patients are using medical marijuana, according to a new study. 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.

Researchers said the finding is consistent with the prevalence of chronic pain, which affects an estimated 100 million Americans.

She told the Associated Press that on bad days, her muscles feel like they're being squeezed in a vise. He said there needs to be more research on patient reports that marijuana provides better symptoms relief and fewer side effects, including better data on formulations and administration methods. She spends about $300 a month at her marijuana dispensary.

"Cannabis is the first thing I've found that actually makes the pain go away and not leave me so high that I can't enjoy my day", Smith said.

The researchers argued that it is time for the federal government to change its classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which defines it as a drug with no now accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. And given the country's opioid epidemic, patients are looking for alternatives to addictive pain medications.

"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", said Boehnke.

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