Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH A survey of medical cannabis users in Minnesota shows 4 in 10 feel the drug has given them significant pain reduction.
The data are based on self-evaluations by 2174 patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program during the last 5 months of 2016. Those patients were required to complete a pain, enjoyment, general activity (PEG) assessment on a scale of 1 to 10 prior to each purchase.
Those self-reports showed 42% of patients had pain reductions of more 30% or more. Nearly one-quarter of participants maintained the 30%-or-more pain-reduction threshold over the course of the study. Fifty-five patients reported severe adverse effects (sAEs).
Tom Arneson, MD, MPH, the research manager for the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis, said the study is part of the state’s ongoing evaluation of its program. He said it is important not to overemphasize the results of the study since it comes with some significant limitations. The data is based mostly on self-assessment, with a small component based on physician surveys. The study also has no control group.
“However, I have spoken with several clinicians with patients enrolled in the program and they indicate the numerical data and patient statements included in the report generally matched their observations—that some patients appear to have benefitted very much and that many were able to reduce or get off their opioid medications,” Arneson told MD Magazine.
Of the 353 patients in the study who said they were taking opioids at the time of their enrollment in the medical cannabis program, 63% said they were able to reduce or eliminate opioid use within six months of using cannabis. The physician survey component of the study showed a similar amount (58%) of patients were able to reduce the use of other pain medications.
Arneson said the data should not