| One-Minute Clinician

Hemp in Pain Management: Are We Lost in the Weeds?

The US is struggling with competing problems: the undertreatment of pain and the abuse of opioids. At the same time, millions of people in third-world countries are dying without access to any opioids. Could marijuana be the solution to both problems? Although it continues to remain prohibited by federal law and treaty, several countries and US states have defied prohibitions by passing their own laws and regulating marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.

Should it be legalized?

It’s not actually a “Yes” or “No” answer when we’re talking about whether we should legalize marijuana across the globe. We see an awful lot of negative impacts from marijuana prohibition and perhaps it might be a solution, or a partial solution, to a lack of access to essential medicines across the world. So what’s the problem?

  • Each country is different
  • Each country is impacted by different rules and regulations
  • When we talk about cannabis—cannabis is comprised of hemp and marijuana
    • They’re two separate plants for the most part, at least according to the law. For almost a century hemp has been in the dark ages, and it has enormous potential in the treatment of pain
  • But so little is known about hemp, and its derivatives, and marijuana
  • The significant reason why so little is known is that it’s been a Schedule 1 substance, which creates significant barriers for research

It was quite frustrating when the drug enforcement administration would not entertain moving marijuana or cannabis in general out of Schedule 1 because it had not been studied enough. But it hasn’t been studied enough is because it was in Schedule 1.

It’s your classic catch-22.