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Shocking Study: 1 in 4 People Using Marijuana for Their Chronic Pain Issues in the United States

By: Therin Miller | Jan. 6, 2023

More than a quarter of adults in the United States who suffer from chronic pain are using cannabis to manage their discomfort, according to a new study published in JAMA Open Network.

Researchers at Michigan Medicine surveyed 1,661 adults living in one of the 36 states with active medical cannabis programs and Washington, D.C., and found that 26 percent reported using cannabis within the past year to manage pain. Out of those people who said they consumed cannabis to help alleviate pain, more than half reported that the drug led to lower use of prescription opioids, nonopioids and over-the-counter pain medications.

The study also found that 39 percent of people who reported using cannabis to treat chronic pain said it led to them taking part in less physical therapy and 19 percent said it led to them meditating less in order to manage their pain. Meanwhile, 24 percent of people who used cannabis to treat chronic pain said their use resulted in them meditating more and 26 percent said their cannabis use led to a decrease in the use of cognitive behavioral therapy.

These findings underscore the need for further research on the benefits and risks of using cannabis for chronic pain management, according to Mark Bicket, assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and co-director of the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network.

While many states have legalized medicinal cannabis, more studies are needed to determine its efficacy in treating chronic pain.


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