A study from the Minnesota Department of Health suggests its medical cannabis program can significantly reduce pain — and even dependence on opioids.
Forty-two percent of intractable pain patients reported thirty percent less pain, based on a numerical, self-reported scale.
“That’s at the level usually used to indicate clinical improvement,” said Tom Arneson, the research manager of the department’s Office of Medical Cannabis.
Between August and December 2016, more than 2,000 people were enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program to treat their intractable, or uncorrectable, pain.
The MDH required enrollees in the medical cannabis program to complete a Patient Self-Evaluation (PSE) before every cannabis product purchase.
Using the PEG (Pain, Enjoyment, General Activity) scale, enrollees described how their pain had affected their daily life in the week before the purchase on a scale from 0 to 10.
According to those PEG numbers, 42 percent of the enrollees reported pain was reduced by at least 30 percent during the five-month study period.
The department of health compiled the experiences and published the five-month study results on Thursday.
The results indicate, Arneson said, that a “fair proportion” of patients taking cannabis for pain management find it very helpful.
About 350 patients began the five-month period taking opioids. Of those, about 220 (63 percent) reduced or eliminated their dependence on opioids after six months.
About 27 percent of patients in the study also reported improved sleep.
“This program was set up to help people,” Arneson said. “They tell us it’s helping, and that’s a good thing. But this wasn’t a controlled study.”
About 40 percent of the enrollees