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New Study: Vaporized Marijuana is a Safe and Effective Pain Treatment

Elizabeth Renter
March 8th, 2013
Updated 05/08/2014 at 5:46 pm
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marijuanaleaf4 265x165 New Study: Vaporized Marijuana is a Safe and Effective Pain TreatmentWhen we talk about the medicinal benefits of marijuana, those who disapprove of its use tend to roll their eyes. But the fact is, this powerful plant has numerous potential applications in healthcare and pain management in particular. A new study has once again demonstrated that the vilified plant can safely and effectively treat general pain along with the painful symptoms of neuropathy.

Neuropathy is damage to the nervous system – particularly the peripheral nervous system (not including the brain and spinal cord). It is characterized by pain and numbness especially in the hands and feet, and is often the result of diabetes. Neuropathy can also be caused by injuries, toxic exposure, infections, and more.

This latest study was conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis Medical Center and was published in The Journal of Pain. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study that looked at the effectiveness of using vaporized, inhaled cannabis in 39 participants. These participants were experiencing neuropathic pain despite having tried traditional treatments (like opiate drugs). All participants continued to take their prescribed medications throughout the 4 week study period.

Researchers gave participants doses of cannabis with moderate THC levels (3.53 percent) or low THC levels (1.29 percent). (THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the plant’s primary psychoactive chemical). Some also received a placebo with no THC. They found both doses of cannabis to be effective in reducing pain significantly.

“Both the low and medium doses proved to be salutary analgesics for the heterogeneous collection of neuropathic pain conditions studied. Both active study medications provided statistically significant 30% reductions in pain intensity when compared to placebo,” stated the researchers.

This is far from the first study to illustrate the pain-relieving benefits of cannabis. In fact, cannabis (even in THC-free form, or free of psychoactive effects) has been identified as a powerful pain reliever in more than 80 peer-reviewed studies. Still, the herb is classified as dangerous by the U.S. government.

Why is marijuana still illegal? Opponents of medicinal marijuana (including the federal government) say the research isn’t enough. It isn’t clear what they would like to see in marijuana studies, but it’s beginning to look like they want the impossible. It seems they would rather Americans continue consuming addictive prescription pain medications than use a plant.

According to AlterNet, sales of opiate pain pills have tripled since 1999. Oxycodone (one of the more popular choices on the legal and illegal market) has increased from 8.3 tons in 1997 to a whopping 105 tons in 2011. Overdose deaths are similarly climbing as is the number of people addicted to these substances. To date, no one has died from a marijuana overdose.

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  • whatsthematter

    What’s the matter with you? Why are you upset?

  • Gina Lopez

    Et themI agree with this storyline. I have screws and rods L4 L5 S1 since Jan. 2000. Before then and to date, I have been on every pain pill, Lidocain Patches, Therapy, Injections. The ONLY pill that works is Oxycontin and blocks (1 wk). Legalize pot! Want my life back.

  • Suzylnn

    I personally believe in the medicinal benefits of marijuana. All plants obviously have a healthy and/or medicinal purpose. However smoking it is out of the question due to possibly developing lung cancer. There are lot's of drugs (all plant based) doctor's/hospitals give people that get them high and numb them etc. everyday! The deal with Marijuana is that everyone smoked in the 60's & 70's (still do!) so it's got a really bad reputation compared all the other drugs that people did not sport while listening to Hendrix & Dylan! It's appalling that cigarets are legal, that is the real mind blower but then we know it's all about the money.

    • 2hazelgreen

      NOT EVERYONE,Suzy!

  • Mary

    If you are in constant pain, not only is your judgement shot but your whole life is not worth enduring the constant torture so why not? Besides, have you ever seen the damage Ibuprofen, Hydrocodeine & Oxycontin does to your liver?

  • tony

    I would like to see a chart comparing marijuana and MM and hemp showing both the good and bad points of each and what each is supposed to cure or at least lessen the effects of medical conditions. No article ever makes a comparative analysis of each. Can you help?

  • connie silver

    But do the test patients also get high? If they could function as a normal person, this would make a great deal of difference.. I have smoked it in my younger days and know it inhibits judgement, greatly.

    • Mari

      Opiates cloud a persons judgement immensely. Pick your poison.

    • js121

      THC gets you high. Medicinal Marijuana does not contain THC or as little as possible. MM strives to get the other 2 cannabinoids – CBC, CBD levels as high as possible. Those 2 cannaboids are what eases pain, etc.. You can function very well with the proper medicine – that is one of the biggest advantages. It is not generally smoked; but, if it is, patients find it easier using a vaporizer. It can be in edible form, butters, etc.. which is quite common. Oils are used for cancer. Some are for chemotherapy which helps patients in reducing stomach issues – vomiting and increases appetite. So, when you think of Medicinal Marijuana, it is just that – medicine – But, with a lot of benefits versus heavy drugs offered now.

    • weebles

      With continued use the impaired judgement you experienced goes away. Studies show that experienced users of marijuana are LESS likely to have accidents.

      The hardest working most creative people I know are persons who who are 50+ and smoke regularly (but do not drink alcohol). I know 60 and 70 year old long-term smokers who can work circles around 30 and 40 year olds in both physical and mental labor. Carl Sagan smoked marijuana to help him author his books.

    • Floyd

      weak mental persons would be inhibited or the drug was altered. I have smoked off and on for years. the only time I experienced unusual effects the drug I smoked was doctored. A person can put any other drug in smoking drugs in the same way that that the tobacco companies did with the nicotine.