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The U.S. Society for Neuroscience has concluded that, "careful studies show that cannabinoids directlly interfere with pain signaling in the nervous system. The insights may lead to a new class of pain killers."

The available evidence from animal and human studies indicates that cannabinoids can have a substantial analgesic effect."

The IOM report concluded that the following patient groups should be targeted for clinical studies of cannabinoids in the treatment of pain:
Chemotherapy patients, especially those being treated for the mucositis, nausea, and anorexia.

  • Postoperative pain patients (using cannabinoids as an opioid adjunct to determine whether nausea and vomiting from opioids are reduced).
  • Patients with spinal cord injury, peripheral neuropathic pain, or central post-stroke pain.
  • Patients with chronic pain and insomnia.

AIDS patients with cachexia, AIDS neuropathy, or any significant pain problem.

The 1998 U.K. House of Lords report says, "There is scientific evidence that cannabinoids possess pain relieving properties, and some clinical evidence to support their medical use in this indication. Many of our witnesses consider that high priority should be given to further research in this area."

Patients with various pain syndromes claim significant relief from marijuana. In fact, British researchers have recently reported that cannabis extract sprayed under the tongue was effective in reducing pain in 18 of 23 patients who were suffering from intractable pain. The validity of their experiences is corroborated by studies in which cannabinoids have been shown to be effective analgesics in animal pain models. This is particularly true for patients suffering from neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain is a symptom commonly associated with a variety of illnesses or conditions, including metastic cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), and diabetes, and it can also be a side effect of the recommended treatments for various conditions. Over 30% of patients with HIV/AIDS suffer from excruciating pain in the nerve endings (polyneuropathies), many in response to the antiretroviral therapies that constitute the first line of treatment for HIV/AIDS. But, there is no approved treatment for such pain that is satisfactory for a majority of patients. As a result, some patients must reduce or discontinue their HIV/AIDS therapy because they can neither tolerate nor eliminate the debilitating side effects of the antiretroviral first-line medications.

GW Pharmaceuticals Medical Uses Index on pain. GW is a pharmaceutical company developing a variety of prescription medicines derived from cannabis to meet patient needs in a wide range of therapeutic indications.

Medical marijuana made national headlines this year when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can prosecute medical marijuana patients, even in states that have compassionate use laws. This ruling was based on the Commerce Clause, and was not a referendum on the validity of medical marijuana. In fact, one of the Supreme Court justices urged medical marijuana advocates to make the will of the people heard in Congress by changing federal law. Click here to read more about Marijuana making National Headlines.

But while we openly discuss the lethal potential of legal pain relievers, shouldn’t we question why one the least lethal medications remains illegal.

That medication is marijuana.

Numerous published studies suggest that cannabis (the scientific term for marijuana) has medical value in treating patients with serious illnesses such as AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and, especially, chronic pain. What’s more, 11 states have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana since 1966 and national polls reveal a wide majority support those laws. The latest national poll, conducted by the AARP, focused on older Americans and found that nearly 75 percent support legalizing medical marijuana. Click here to read more about Medical Marijuana: The Pain of Prohibition.