Drug Law

Smoked Marijuana Eases Chronic Pain, Study Confirms

| by Marijuana Policy Project

Inhaled marijuana can provide relief to patients suffering from chronic nerve pain, and can also help them sleep, according to a Canadian study published last week in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal gave different types of marijuana to adult volunteers suffering from intractable pain that hadn’t responded to other medications. As described by the The New York Times:

Each volunteer was given a titanium pipe to take home along with quarter-teaspoon capsules of cannabis that they were instructed to open, tip in to the bowl of the pipe, light and then inhale, holding the smoke in their lungs for 10 seconds before exhaling.

The cannabis with the highest concentration of THC, 9.4 percent, appeared to deliver a modest reduction in pain: 0.7 point on an 11-point scale, compared with the placebo. There were no significant differences with the lesser concentrations.

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According to the findings published in JCMA, patients who used marijuana experienced “significantly reduced average pain scores” and were also able to sleep better and had less anxiety compared with patients who were given placebo.

“Our results support the claim that smoked cannabis reduces pain, improves mood, and helps sleep,” researchers concluded.

Opponents of medical marijuana often claim that medicine cannot be smoked. And while, of course, smoking is not the only (or preferred) method of delivery for medical marijuana patients, this study once again confirms not only that whole-plant marijuana has medical efficacy, but specifically that smoked marijuana does as well.