Dr. Mark Ware (et al.) from McGill University has published a study looking at the long term efficacy of cannabis use for chronic pain, finding that cannabis can be an effective tool, with relatively little side effect, for the management of chronic pain. This is one of the first longitudinal studies on the safety of medical cannabis, and is part of the much anticipated Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study (COMPASS).
Dr. Mark Ware is an important voice in the cannabinoid research community, and one of the founding members of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigations of Cannabinoids, an organization dedicated to “promote evidence-based research and education concerning the endocannabinoid system and therapeutic applications of endocannabinoid and cannabinoid agents”. They have been contributing to the discourse and evidence of cannabinoids since 2000. Other members include Dr. Fischer from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, as well as Dr. Jonathan Page and Dr. Zack Walsh, both from UBC.
Ware is contributing to a growing literature on the medical efficacy of cannabis to treat a variety of conditions. This study followed 431 participants with chronic non-cancer pain for one year, where have were in the cannabis treatment group and the others were in a placebo group. Studies such as this are considered a gold standard in terms of reliability and validity, since these studies eliminate the influence of an unknown or immeasurable confounding variable.
The cannabis using group in this case reported improvements in management of pain and overall quality of life. They also report an improvement in things like mood disturbances related to pain. Its important to note that participants did report some negative non-serious effects, such as headaches and drowsiness, but was not present for those who were experienced cannabis users prior to the study.
On average, participants used about 2.5 grams per day (12.5% THC) – so it continues to add to many studies which use strains with lower levels of THC, which could be said to have an influence over the various limits suggested by physician’s provincial colleges across Canada.
If you want to read more about this research, you can access the full article published in the Journal of Pain here.