Three in 10 Adults With Chronic Pain Use Cannabis to Manage Condition

More than half using cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain report substituting cannabis in place of other pain medications.

HealthDay News — Three in 10 adults with chronic pain in states with medical cannabis laws report using cannabis to manage their pain, according to a study published online Jan. 6 in JAMA Network Open.

Mark C. Bicket, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used data from the National Opinion Research Center AmeriSpeak panel to assess cannabis use among 1,661 adults with chronic pain who lived in the 36 states and Washington, D.C., with active medical cannabis programs.

The researchers found that 31.0 percent of adults with chronic pain reported having ever used cannabis to manage their pain, while 25.9 percent reported using cannabis to manage their chronic pain in the previous 12 months and 23.2 percent reported using cannabis in the previous 30 days. Among people reporting using cannabis to manage chronic pain, most also reported having used either at least one other pharmacologic (94.7 percent) or nonpharmacologic pain treatment (70.6 percent). More than half of adults who used cannabis to manage their chronic pain reported that use of cannabis led them to decrease use of prescription opioid, prescription nonopioid, and over-the-counter pain medications, while fewer than half reported that cannabis use changed their use of nonpharmacologic pain treatments.

“Our results suggest that state cannabis laws have enabled access to cannabis as an analgesic treatment despite knowledge gaps in use as a medical treatment for pain,” the authors write.

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