A comprehensive four-year study on medicinal cannabis was conducted by researchers from the University of News South Wales (UNSW) Sydney and discovered that the drug doesn’t effectively alleviate chronic non-cancer pain in patients.
The study is known as Pain and Opioids IN Treatment (POINT). It is one of the world’s longest in-depth community studies that focused on the effects of medicinal cannabis on the pain that interferes with participant’s everyday life.
“Chronic non-cancer pain is a complex problem. For most people, there is unlikely to be a single effective treatment,” said lead author Dr. Gabrielle Campbell.
“In our study of people living with chronic non-cancer pain who were prescribed pharmaceutical opioids, despite reporting perceived benefits from cannabis use, we found no strong evidence that cannabis use reduced participants’ pain or opioid use over time.”
The researchers recruited participants through community pharmacies across Australia.
They completed a series of baseline interviews and the researchers made a follow up via phone interviews and self-complete questionnaires for a period of 4 years.
The participants provided information on their past and current chronic pain conditions, pain self-efficacy, past and lifetime cannabis use and their mental conditions.
They reported that they had been in pain for an average of 10 years and taken prescribed opioids for about four years.
Rates of physical and mental health problems were extremely high.
Results show that cannabis doesn’t necessarily play a clear role in the treatment of
chronic non-cancer pain.
There is currently a worldwide increase in the use of medicinal cannabis and chronic non-cancer pain is the most common reason why patients take the drug.
The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney.
Results are now published in the Lancet Public Health journal.