Inhaled Cannabis Associated with Significant Reductions in Self-Reported Pain Severity

Pullman, WA: Smoked cannabis is associated with significant declines in subjects’ perception of pain severity, according to data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

A team of investigators affiliated with Washington State University assessed the effects of cannabis inhalation on self-reported pain severity in a cohort of patients suffering from various pain conditions, including muscle pain, nerve pain, and joint pain. Study participants self-administered cannabis at home and reported symptom changes in real time on a mobile software application.

Authors reported that subjects’ perceptions of their pain severity fell nearly 50 percent following cannabis inhalation. That finding is consistent with previous data using similar methods which concluded that pain patients, on average, reported “a three-point drop in pain suffering on a zero-to-10 point scale immediately following cannabis consumption.”

Investigators noted that subjects typically increased their cannabis dosing over time, suggesting that some tolerance to the plant’s analgesic effects may develop following its continued use. They also noted that patients suffering primarily from nerve-related pain responded most favorably to lower doses of cannabis, 

Several placebo-controlled trials validate the pain-relieving properties of cannabis, particularly in the mitigation of neuropathy. A 2017 literature review by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis [is] effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.”

Full text of the study, “A large-scale naturalistic examination of the acute effects of cannabis on pain,” appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.