Research Roundup: study shows more stimulant use in states without medical cannabis

Also: more and more chronic pain patients are turning to medical cannabis for relief


. Photo by Sanny11/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Pain patients turn to cannabis

Hospitalized patients with chronic pain are turning to cannabis for relief in significant numbers. A study published in Advances in Therapy examined data from nearly 250,000 patients from 2011 to 2015. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that the patients’ cannabis consumption more than doubled during that time frame.

Citing evidence that cannabis reduces inflammation, the authors say its increased use is “not surprising”. They predict that such use will likely increase further as chronic-pain diagnoses trend upwards. The growing availability of legal cannabis will also be a significant factor.

With chronic pain projected to increase over the next two decades to a rate of one in three people from the current rate of one in five people, our findings foretell that cannabis use can be projected to increase even more rapidly.

As a whole, our results show that cannabis use is on the rise in patients with chronic pain and can be expected to continue to trend upwards in the face of increasing societal awareness and availability of legal cannabis.

The study notes that cannabis has fewer side effects than traditional pain medication. The researchers write that it “provides greater symptom management than opioids.”

“Cannabis may offer a viable therapeutic approach to decreasing opioid dependence,” they suggest.

Infographic from “Cannabis Use in Hospitalized Patients with Chronic Pain”.

Stimulants and cannabis laws

According to a study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, stimulant use is higher in U.S. states without medical cannabis laws (MCL). The study was led by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health researchers. They analyzed National Survey on Drug Use and Health data from between 2015 and 2017.

Authors noted that the study was cross-sectional and could not estimate causal effects of MCL enactment on prescription stimulant use. According to a Columbia University news release, “several factors may explain the link between medical and non-medical stimulant use and state MCL status.”

First, MCL states may have other common characteristics that existed prior to MCL enactment compared to non-MCL states, including lower rates of medical and non-medical prescription stimulant use. Second, MCL states might have different stimulant prescribing regulations that may drive prescribing patterns and thus the amount of prescription stimulants in circulation. In 2016, half of the states above the median in per capita (mg/person) of amphetamine prescriptions were non-MCL states, while only one-third of states that were below the median in prescriptions were non-MCL states.

“This suggests that the volume of prescription stimulants may be higher in non-MCL as compared to MCL states, which previous research suggests can lead to diversion, whereby stimulants that were medically prescribed are used non-medically,” the study’s authors write.

The same study also looked at rates of stimulant use among people of various sexual identities and genders. They found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults reported higher levels of prescription stimulant use than heterosexuals. This was especially true of bisexual adults. The authors suggest that “bisexual individuals are a particularly at-risk group for whom structural interventions are needed.”

Thanks for the tip

Have you read a recent study that sheds new light on the topic of cannabis? Are you a researcher working on a clinical trial? If so, send me a link and I might feature it in a future edition of CannCentral’s Research Roundup. Thanks!


  • trevor scott July 29, 2020 09:18 PM

    Total waste of time… Just click-bait…

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