Medical Marijuana Effectiveness is Mixed

A study appearing in a recent JAMA concludes that there is “moderate-quality evidence” to support the use of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds that constitute the active agents in marijuana, for treatment of chronic pain conditions. Evidence for effectiveness in the treatment of other conditions such as nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, sleep disorders, and Tourette syndrome was characterized as “lower quality.” To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have introduced laws to permit the medical use of cannabis, although, according to background information in the article, clinical proof of efficacy for specific indications is not clear.

The meta-analysis examined the findings from nearly 80 randomized trials encompassing about 6,500 participants. There was moderate-quality evidence to suggest that cannabinoids may be beneficial for the treatment of chronic neuropathic or cancer pain and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (sustained muscle contractions or sudden involuntary movements). The authors note the need for “Further large, robust, randomized clinical trials…to confirm the effects of cannabinoids (and that) further studies evaluating cannabis itself are also required because there is very little evidence on the effects and AEs of cannabis.” In an accompanying editorial written by Deepak Cyril D'Souza, MBBS, MD, and Mohini Ranganathan, MD, from the Yale University School of Medicine the authors contend that “…if the goal is to make marijuana available for medical purposes, then it is unclear why the approval process should be different from that used for other medications. Evidence justifying marijuana use for various medical conditions will require the conduct of adequately powered, double-blind, randomized, placebo/active controlled clinical trials to test its short- and long-term efficacy and safety.”

Medical marijuana will be discussed at PAINWeek 2015, in courses such as “The Science Behind Medical Marijuana as an Analgesic” and “Medical Aspects of Marijuana Use.” For more information, and to register for the PAINWeek National Conference, September 8-12, CLICK HERE.

According to this study, medical marijuana does demonstrate benefits.

Watch a video interview, “Medical Marijuana: A Pharmacist Perspective,” with Kathryn A. Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE.

Watch a video interview, “Medical Marijuana: The Legal Environment for Prescribers,” with Stephen J. Ziegler, PhD, JD.

Read a news story about the analysis and conclusions for the study mentioned above, here.


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