Study: Most Patients Report Symptom Improvements Following Short-Term Use of Medical Cannabis

Vancouver, Canada: Patients with recurrent pain, post-traumatic stress, and sleep disorders typically report improvements in their conditions following the initiation of medical cannabis therapy, according to data published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

A team of researchers from Canada and Italy assessed the safety and efficacy of cannabis in a cohort of 214 Canadian patients authorized under the law to use marijuana products. Investigators assessed patients’ symptoms and quality of life prior to using medical cannabis and six weeks after initiating treatment. The majority of patients participating in the study were over 50 years of age. 

Among patients suffering from chronic pain conditions, 76 percent reported improvements in their symptoms after six weeks. Patients with post-traumatic stress also reported significant improvements in their quality of life following the short-term use of medical cannabis. Subjects primarily diagnosed with sleep disorders also reported marked improvements in their symptoms. 

Patients with arthritis and/or other rheumatic disorders reported reduced pain, but they did not report overall improvements in their conditions. Patients with anxiety reported improvements in their quality of life, but they failed to report any significant changes in their anxiety levels. 

The most frequently reported side-effects associated with medical cannabis were dry mouth (22 percent) and sleepiness (15 percent).

Authors concluded: “Aligning with previously published studies, we report that over 60 percent of the medical cannabis cohort reported improvements in their medical conditions. … Overall, we have provided new real-world evidence to support the use of medical cannabis in a number of different medical conditions as a means to immediately provide the scientific evidence healthcare practitioners routinely state they require and to inform the future clinical studies needed to generate efficacy and safety data that will ultimately support the drafting of future regulatory guidelines surrounding medical cannabis use.”

Full text of the study, “Evaluation of patient reported safety and efficacy of cannabis from a survey of medical cannabis patients in Canada,” appears in Frontiers in Public Health. Additional information on the use of cannabinoids in various patient populations is available from NORML.