Chronic pain: heavy medical cannabis use tied to worsened pain

  • J Pain

  • von Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Heavy use of medical marijuana in patients with chronic pain was associated with greater pain severity than light use.

Why this matters

  • The findings point to the need for cannabis use guidelines designed to promote harm reduction.

Study design

  • Study identified 989 daily users of cannabis (medical use only, n=531; medical+recreational use, n=458) for chronic pain.
  • Funding: None.

Key results

  • Subgroups based on cannabis use/day:
    • light (1-2/day; n=307),
    • moderate (3-4/day; n=382), and
    • heavy (≥5/day; n=300).
  • Lower pain severity was noted among light vs moderate and heavy cannabis users (P=.044).
  • Lower pain interference (P=.024), positive affect (P=.039), and negative affect (P=.008) were noted in light vs heavy users.
  • Low tetrahydrocannabinol and high cannabidiol products were preferred by 44.7% of light users vs 29.0% of moderate users and 12.4% of heavy users.
  • Among medical-only participants, light cannabis users (vs moderate and heavy users, respectively; P<.0001 reported lower: style="list-style-type:circle;">
  • pain severity (5.4 vs 6.2 and 6.2) and
  • pain interference (4.4 vs 5.4 and 5.5).
  • Compared with heavy cannabis users, light users reported lower positive affect (23.5 vs 25.2; P=.037) and lower negative affect (24.7 vs 26.8; P=.011).
  • Limitations

    • Cross-sectional study.

    Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm