A study involving 900 people who suffer from chronic pain has just been published in the leading scientific journal, Frontiers.
The first paper explores how cannabis-based medicines could be used for treating chronic pain, outlines the current patient demographics, and highlights some of the key challenges facing those who live with persistent pain.
Project Twenty21 was created by the UK drug reform charity Drug Science in 2019 with the aim to create a database for the safety of medicinal marijuana.
Over two thousand six hundred people are participating in the study, of whom fifty percent are using cannabis for chronic pain.
Of the 949 people who reported having chronic pain as their primary condition, roughly half were men, with an average age of 42 years old.
A variety of cannabis products were prescribed to this group, including some that had a high THC content.
Furthermore, 92% of people who suffer from a primary condition of chronic back pain report having at least one co-existing secondary condition, with over half reporting up to six.
These include psychological disorders including anxiety and depression, for which medical marijuana may be used. Most patients also used at least one other prescription drug (69%), which was often for pain relief.
One of the main findings from the study was that people who suffer from chronic pain have a lower quality of life than people without pain.
More than half of the respondents reported experiencing severe or extreme problems because of their pain.
“Most people who use cannabis for medical purposes have multiple health issues, so they suffer from a poor quality of life,’ says Dr Schlag.
“The pain interference and pain severity for most of these patients are very severe.” Many people who suffer from chronic pain cannot live their lives the way they want to because the pain is too intense.
“The low quality of life for these patients was quite astonishing in terms of the extent to which they had trouble walking, conducting their daily routines, taking care of themselves, and dealing with feelings of anxiety and depression.”
It’s important because the myth that medical marijuana patients are young people who want to get stoned has been debunked by research showing that they’re older than average and have a lot of health issues.
A further study, due to be published next year, will examine the effects of medical marijuana at a three and six-month follow-up appointment, including whether the drug has helped patients reduce other prescription medications, including opioid painkillers.
Researchers hope that their findings, which show promise for helping people who suffer from depression, will encourage regulators to consider real-life evidence when deciding whether to approve new drugs.