Drug Law

Inhaled Marijuana ‘Clearly Has Medical Value’

| by NORML

[Editor's note: This post is excerpted from this week's forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML's media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML's free e-zine here.]

Inhaled cannabis reduces pain and improves sleep compared to placebo, and is well tolerated by patients with chronic neuropathy, according to clinical trial data published this week in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ).

Investigators at McGill University in Montreal assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis on pain intensity in 23 subjects with chronic post-traumatic or post-surgical neuropathic pain in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Participants in the study received a single inhalation of 25 mg of 9.4 percent herbal cannabis or placebo three times daily. All of the volunteers in the study suffered from refractory pain for which conventional therapies had proven ineffective.

Researchers reported: “[H]erbal cannabis … significantly reduced average pain scores compared with … cannabis placebo in adult participants. … We found significant improvement in measures of sleep quality and anxiety. … Our results support the claim that smoked cannabis reduces pain, improves mood, and helps sleep.

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Speaking to Web MD online, the study’s lead researcher Mark Ware said: “We’ve shown again that cannabis is an analgesic. Clearly it has medical value.”

In February, investigators from the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research summarized the results of four separate FDA ‘gold standard’ designed clinical trials demonstrating that inhaled marijuana was safe and effective for the treatment of neuropathy.

An estimated one to two percent of the population suffers from some form of neuropathic pain, which typically goes untreated by standard analgesics.

Listen to NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre and NORML Advisory Board member Lester Grinspoon discuss this trial, and other subjects related to the medical use of cannabis, on NPR’s The Diane Rehm show here.