New research out of Canada suggests that medical marijuana may help people with chronic pain control serious side effects, but it may lead to an increase in minor side effects.
Lead researcher Dr. Mark Ware said medical marijuana appears to be a relatively safe option.
“In terms of a side effect profile, we felt the drug had a reasonably good safety profile, if you compare those effects to other medications,” said Dr. Ware, director of clinical research at McGill University Health Center in Montreal.
Medical Marijuana Study
For their study, researchers tracked 215 patients with chronic pain who used medical marijuana. Participants were studied for one year, and they were compared to a control group of 216 individuals who did not use medical or recreational marijuana. Individuals in the medical marijuana group were given leaf marijuana containing 12.5 percent THC, and they were allowed to smoke it, eat it or vaporize the substance.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers uncovered:
- Those who used medical marijuana to ease their chronic pain did not have an increased risk of serious side effects, compared to those who didn’t use pot.
- Medical marijuana users were more likely to experience minor side effects, like headaches, nausea, sleepiness and dizziness. They saw a 73 percent increase in less-serious side effects.
- Researchers suggest medical marijuana users saw some pain relief through the use of the drug, and they also had better moods and reported a higher quality of life.
Dr. Ware said the study was the first and largest in terms of the long-term safety of medical marijuana, and it could help people who are deciding whether or not to try medical marijuana for their chronic pain.
“This is a paper they should bring to the attention of their physician or health care provider,” Ware said. “Anybody who is interested in using cannabis to treat pain should know this information, as it can influence the decision-making process considerably.”
Dr. Ware also said patients who have never tried marijuana my have a different experience when first getting used to medical pot
“For somebody reading this who’s never tried it, the effects they experience might be different,” Ware said.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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