September 29, 2015 3:10 pm

Medical pot for chronic pain appears safe: study

The new prime minister has promised to legalize pot, but the new tone didn't stop Saskatoon police from cracking down on the city's only dispensary in October.

A A

A benchmark study has found that patients who use medical marijuana to treat chronic pain don’t have more serious side-effects than sufferers who don’t use the herb.

Dr. Mark Ware, a pain specialist, from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, led the national study, and said medical cannabis appears to have a reasonable safety profile when taken by patients who are experienced users.

Story continues below
Global News

“This is the first and largest study of the long term safety of medical cannabis use by patients suffering from chronic pain ever conducted,” said Dr. Ware.

The four-year study followed 215 adults with chronic non-cancer pain who used medical cannabis and compared them to a control group of 216 chronic pain sufferers who were not marijuana users.

READ MORE: New federal government could speed up cannabis industry growth: experts

The cannabis group was given access to herbal cannabis containing 12.5 per cent of the active ingredient THC from a licensed cannabis producer.

Researchers found significant improvement in pain levels, mood and quality of life among pot users compared to the control group, and no evidence of harmful effects on cognitive function.

However, cannabis users had an increased risk of non-serious side-effects such as headache, nausea, dizziness and respiratory problems associated with smoking.

“It is important to note the limitations of the study,” said Ware. “Patients were self-selected, not randomized, and most were experienced users. So what we are seeing is that it appears to be a relatively safe drug when used by people who have already determined that it helps them.

READ MORE: Mom denied daughter’s marijuana prescription in Alberta turns to Ontario for help

“We cannot draw conclusions about safety issues of new cannabis users.”

Ware said the study, published online in The Journal of Pain, should help doctors counsel chronic-pain patients about medical marijuana’s effectiveness and its potential side-effects.

 

© 2015 The Canadian Press

Report an error

Comments

Global News