Australian researchers said there is no strong evidence to suggest that cannabis reduces chronic non-cancer pain, in spite of growing use of the psychoactive drug worldwide for medicinal purposes.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales Sydney, conducting what was touted as one of the longest community studies of its kind, found no clear role for cannabis in treating chronic non-cancer pain, the university said in a statement.
The four-year study involved 1,500 participants, with those using cannabis “experiencing greater pain and anxiety,” “coping less well with their pain” and reporting that pain was “interfering more in their life” compared to those not using the drug.
“Chronic non-cancer pain is a complex problem. For most people, there is unlikely to be a single effective treatment,” said Dr Gabrielle Campbell, lead author of the study published in the Lancet Public Health medical journal.
“In our study of people living with chronic non-cancer pain who were prescribed pharmaceutical opioids, in spite of reporting perceived benefits from cannabis use, we found no strong evidence that cannabis use reduced participants’ pain.”
According to the university, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has been increasing worldwide and chronic non-cancer pain is the most common reason cited for medicinal use.
The researchers said there has been speculation that using cannabis for pain may also allow people to reduce their prescribed opioid use but long-term evidence continues to be limited.