Medical Marijuana Users Also More Likely to Also Use Tobacco

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Marc L. Steinberg, Ph.D.,
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers RWJMS
Director, Doctoral Psychology Internship Program, Rutgers UBHC – Piscataway
Research Lab Website: Tobacco Research & Intervention Lab

Dr. Steinberg

PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes (often called ‘medical marijuana’) has grown, my colleague, Dr. Mary Bridgeman, and I became interested in exploring more about the population who use marijuana for therapeutic purposes. My research has historically focused on tobacco use and so that was one issue in particular that we focused on in this study.

We know that individuals who use cannabis, in general, are more likely to smoke, but we did not know if that was also true for those who used cannabis for therapeutic purposes.  

Fewer Synthetic Cannabinoid Poisonings in States with Legalized Medical Marijuana

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Tracy Klein, PhD, ARNP, FAANP, FRE, FAAN
Assistant Director, Center for Cannabis Policy, Research and Outreach
Associate Professor, College of Nursing
Washington State University Vancouver
Vancouver, WA

PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: This study evaluates data on illicit synthetic cannabinoid poisonings reported to the National Poison Data System (NPDS) which contains data from 55 poison centers in the US (https://aapcc.org/about/our-members). We correlated the 7600 poisonings reported between 2016 and 2019 with the reporting state’s status of cannabis legalization: restrictive, medical and permissive.

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Real World Study Evaluates Medical Cannabis for Cancer Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
David (Dedi) Meiri PhD
Principal Investigato
Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research
Technion
Israel Institute of Technology

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study? 

Response: We encountered numerous cancer patients that asked us whether medical cannabis treatment can benefit their health, however, while there is a lot of anecdotal evidence regarding the effectiveness of medical cannabis for pain, not much was known regarding its effectiveness in particular for the treatment of cancer-related pain; and there were no validated clinical studies. This motivated us to conduct an organized and thorough study that can serve patients and government ministries alike.

This study, which was conducted by Dr. Joshua Aviram as part of his postdoctoral fellowship, is the first to assess the possible benefits of medical cannabis for cancer-related pain in oncology patients, gathering information from right before they started the treatment and with repeated follow-ups for an extended period of time. Over a span of six months, we investigated the effectiveness and safety of medical cannabis treatment based on sound real-world evidence.

Australian Study Finds Most Medical Cannabis Obtained Without Prescription

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Janni Leung, PhD
National Health and Medical Research Council Emerging Leadership Fellow
National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research (NCYSUR)
The University of Queensland

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study? 

Response: It is important to know the prevalence and source of medical cannabis use because non-prescribed use may put individuals at risk.

More Kids Poisoned by Cannabis Since Legalization

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Daniel Myran, MD, MPH, CCFP, FRCPC
Family and Public Health and Preventive Medicine Physician 
CIHR Fellow, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 
Department of Family Medicine Innovation Fellow
University of Ottawa 

Dr. Myran

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study? 

Response: Canada legalized recreational, or non-medical, cannabis in October 2018. Canada took phased approach to legalization initially only allowing flower-based cannabis products and oils and after one year permitting the sale of commercial cannabis edibles (e.g. THC containing candies, baked goods, and drinks). In this study we took advantage of this phased roll out of legal cannabis to understand the impact of legalization on cannabis exposures or poisonings in children aged 0-9 years and the contribution of different types of cannabis products to these events. 

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Study Finds Medical Cannabis Not Likely to Solve Opioid Crisis for Pain Patients

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Carsten Hjorthøj, senior Researcher
Copenhagen Research Center for Mental Health – CORE, Mental Health Center Copenhagen, Copenhagen University Hospital
University of Copenhagen, Department of Public Health
Section of Epidemiology, Copenhagen, Denmark.

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Denmark introduced a pilot program of medical cannabis in 2018. Medical cannabis, and cannabis-based medicine, has gained a lot of both attention and controversy as a possible way to treat pain disorders, but the evidence base is still sparse. The Danish nationwide unselected registers allow us to perform a high quality pharmacoepidemiologic study with propensity score matched controls.

The main findings are that medical cannabis and cannabis-based medicine did not reduce the use of opioids in pain patients, and might actually lead to an increase in use of opioids. However, patients with neuropathic pain disorders appeared to reduce their use of gabapentin, their use of overall medication (but not opioids!), and the number of days spent in hospital, compared with controls.

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Study Identifies Three Patterns of Medical Cannabis Use for Pain

Dr. Deepika Slawek,

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Deepika Slawek, MD, MS, MPH 
(she/hers)
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine
Montefiore Medical Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, NY 10467

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Medical cannabis has become increasingly available in the United States over the past 25 years and is commonly used for the management of pain. Little is known about the patterns of medical cannabis use by patients with chronic pain. This information could help providers anticipate patients’ needs and identify potential disparities in access.

We followed 99 adults in New York State who were newly certified for medical cannabis use and who were prescribed opioids over the course of 1 year. Using a latent class trajectory analysis, we identified clusters of participants based on 14-day frequency of medical cannabis use. We used logistic regression to determine factors associated with cluster membership including sociodemographic characteristics, pain, substance use, and mental health symptoms.

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Study Evaluates Placebo Effect of CBD on Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Martin De Vita, CPT, MS, USA
Doctoral Candidate
Clinical Psychology Department
Syracuse University

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Seemingly out of nowhere, cannabidiol (CBD) products became immensely popular. Cross-sectional studies showed widespread use among the public for various clinical conditions. Pain was by far the most commonly reason cited for using CBD. However, no human experimental pain studies had been conducted to evaluate the analgesic effects of CBD. A lot of people questioned whether CBD effects on pain were just a placebo.

To answer this question, we tested people’s baseline pain responding using sophisticated equipment capable of delivering safe, but painful stimulation that activates and evaluates human nervous system processes. Then we administered either CBD or a placebo and re-tested these pain outcomes to see how they changed. We took it a step further and manipulated the information that participants were given about which substance they received. So in some conditions, participants were told they got CBD, even though it was just a placebo. In other conditions, participants were told they got an inactive substance, despite actually receiving CBD. This way, we could test whether simply telling someone that they had received CBD would have an effect on their pain. These are called expectancy effects and there is a large body of literature that supports this phenomenon.

When we looked at the data, we found that CBD analgesia was actually driven by both expectancies (placebo analgesia) and pharmacological action. We also found that these manipulations affected different pain outcomes. We found that both CBD and expectancies reduced pain unpleasantness but not pain intensity. The results were complex in that CBD and expectancies for receiving CBD differentially affected various outcomes. This was exciting because we are left with even more questions to investigate in future research.

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