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Survey: Cannabis helps mitigate musculoskeletal pain

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If Drug War was just a pain in the neck, legalizing marijuana could help. Now, a new pain study gives additional reasons why the plant should be legal in the world.

Patients suffering from musculoskeletal pain disorders have achieved significant relief after using medical cannabis products, according to data published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

A team of Puerto Rican investigators investigated 184 patients with chronic pain regarding medical cannabis use. (Lawmakers legalized patients’ access to certain cannabis preparations in 2015.)

89% say cannabis works better than opioids

Respondents suffering specifically from musculoskeletal conditions reported an average reduction of 4.47 points on the Numerical Rating Scale after cannabis administration. Eighty percent of survey participants said cannabis was “more effective” than opioids in pain management – a finding that is consistent with other studies.

The authors concluded: “This study showed that medical cannabis use among patients with musculoskeletal conditions effectively reduced pain levels based on their reported NRS scores. In addition, most patients who use medical cannabis has been considered to represent a better option than narcotics (e.g., opioids) for proper pain management.Additional studies on medical cannabis should assess whether the experience and perspective presented through this study could translate into satisfactory and consistent clinical outcomes. ”

Data from the 2020 survey estimated that one in five Canadian patients battling musculoskeletal disorders have used cannabis to relieve their pain. Among the pain sufferers enrolled in medical cannabis access programs, most of the subjects reported decreasing or even eliminating their opiate use.


Paul Armentano is deputy director of NORML. Full text of the study, “Patient experience and perspective on medical cannabis as an alternative for the management of musculoskeletal pain,” appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Additional information on cannabis and chronic pain is available from NORML.

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