Comparing the effects of medical cannabis for chronic pain patients with and without co-morbid anxiety: A cohort study

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“Introduction: There is growing evidence on the efficacy of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) for chronic pain (CP). Due to the interaction between CP and anxiety, and the potential impact of CBMPs on both anxiety and CP, this article aimed to compare the outcomes of CP patients with and without co-morbid anxiety following CBMP treatment.

Methods: Participants were prospectively enrolled and categorized by baseline General Anxiety Disorder-7(GAD-7) scores, into ‘no anxiety'(GAD-7 < 5) and ‘anxiety'(GAD-7 ≥ 5) cohorts. Primary outcomes were changes in Brief Pain Inventory Short-Form, Short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire-2, Pain Visual Analogue Scale, Sleep Quality Scale (SQS), GAD-7 and EQ-5D-5L index values at 1, 3 and 6 months.

Results: 1254 patients (anxiety = 711; no anxiety = 543) met inclusion criteria. Significant improvements in all primary outcomes were observed at all timepoints (p < 0.050), except GAD-7 in the no anxiety group(p > 0.050). The anxiety cohort reported greater improvements in EQ-5D-5L index values, SQS and GAD-7(p < 0.050), but there were no consistent differences in pain outcomes.

Conclusion: A potential association between CBMPs and improvements in pain and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in CP patients was identified. Those with co-morbid anxiety reported greater improvements in HRQoL.”

“A potential association between initiation of CBMPs and improvements in pain and HRQoL, as well as reductions in opioid consumption and an acceptable AE profile in both cohorts was found, complimenting previous UKMCR studies. Moreover, CP patients with co-morbid anxiety may achieve better HRQoL outcomes and potentially pain outcomes due to CBMPs’ peripheral and central effects.”

A Retrospective Medical Record Review of Adults with Non-Cancer Diagnoses Prescribed Medicinal Cannabis

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“Research describing patients using medicinal cannabis and its effectiveness is lacking. We aimed to describe adults with non-cancer diagnoses who are prescribed medicinal cannabis via a retrospective medical record review and assess its effectiveness and safety. From 157 Australian records, most were female (63.7%; mean age 63.0 years). Most patients had neurological (58.0%) or musculoskeletal (24.8%) conditions. Medicinal cannabis was perceived beneficial by 53.5% of patients.

Mixed-effects modelling and post hoc multiple comparisons analysis showed significant changes overtime for pain, bowel problems, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, mood, quality of life (all p < 0.0001), breathing problems (p = 0.0035), and appetite (p = 0.0465) Symptom Assessment Scale scores. For the conditions, neuropathic pain/peripheral neuropathy had the highest rate of perceived benefit (66.6%), followed by Parkinson’s disease (60.9%), multiple sclerosis (60.0%), migraine (43.8%), chronic pain syndrome (42.1%), and spondylosis (40.0%). For the indications, medicinal cannabis had the greatest perceived effect on sleep (80.0%), followed by pain (51.5%), and muscle spasm (50%). Oral oil preparations of balanced delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol (average post-titration dose of 16.9 mg and 34.8 mg per day, respectively) were mainly prescribed. Somnolence was the most frequently reported side effect (21%).

This study supports medicinal cannabis’ potential to safely treat non-cancer chronic conditions and indications.”

“Cannabis (Cannabaceae) has been used medicinally since 400 AD for its analgesic, appetite enhancement, and myorelaxant properties. Emerging evidence suggests that people with chronic conditions may benefit from using medicinal cannabis for treating chronic pain, multiple sclerosis-related spasticity, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, and anxiety.”

Medical Cannabis for Chronic Nonmalignant Pain Management


“Purpose of review: Cannabis has been used since ancient times for medical and recreational research. This review article will document the validity of how medical cannabis can be utilized for chronic nonmalignant pain management.

Recent findings: Current cannabis research has shown that medical cannabis is indicated for symptom management for many conditions not limited to cancer, chronic pain, headaches, migraines, and psychological disorders (anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder). Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are active ingredients in cannabis that modulate a patient’s symptoms. These compounds work to decrease nociception and symptom frequency via the endocannabinoid system. Research regarding pain management is limited within the USA as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies it as a schedule one drug. Few studies have found a limited relationship between chronic pain and medical cannabis use. A total of 77 articles were selected after a thorough screening process using PubMed and Google Scholar. This paper demonstrates that medical cannabis use provides adequate pain management. Patients suffering from chronic nonmalignant pain may benefit from medical cannabis due to its convenience and efficacy.”

“Patients often seek medical consultations most commonly because of having intolerable chronic pain. Medications such as NSAIDs or opioids are being used to relieve such pain. However, long-term use of these medications can also cause adverse effects on health. Several studies have been done regarding cannabis as an alternative for chronic pain. Some patients were reported to get relief from cannabis consumption through various routes, and the use of it has been legalized, too, in some states in the USA and countries like Germany. Italy, the Netherlands, UK, Australia, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Thailand, and Jamaica. Compared with opioids, studies show that cannabis use has lesser adverse effects, and it could even lessen opioid dependence.”

Patient Reported Outcomes Using Medical Cannabis for Managing Pain in Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

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“Objective: Chronic pain is a major problem for patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease. This exploratory study examined patient reported efficacy of medical cannabis for pain management in this population. 

Methods: Participants (N = 56; 71.4% female; Age = 48.9, SD = 14.6; 48.5% CMT1) were recruited though the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation. The online survey contained 52 multiple choice questions about demographics, medical cannabis use, symptomology, efficacy, and adverse effects. 

Results: Nearly all (90.9%) of respondents reported experiencing pain, including all (100%) females and 72.7% of males (chi-square P < .05) with 91.7% of respondents indicating cannabis provided at least 50% pain relief. The most frequent response was an 80% reduction in pain. Moreover, 80.0% of respondents reported using less opiates, 69% noted using less sleep medication, and 50.0% reported using less anxiety/antidepressant medications. Negative side effects were noted by 23.5% of respondents. However, almost all (91.7%) of that subgroup did not have plans to stop consuming cannabis. One-third (33.9%) possessed a medical cannabis certificate. Patient perceptions of their physicians’ attitudes regarding patient medical cannabis use greatly impacted whether respondents informed their providers of their usage. 

Conclusion: The vast majority of patients with CMT reported that cannabis was effective to manage pain symptoms. These data support the need for prospective, randomized, controlled trials using standardized dosing protocols to further delineate and optimize the potential use of cannabis to treat pain related to CMT.”

Changes in Prescribed Opioid Dosages Among Patients Receiving Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain, New York State, 2017-2019

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“Importance: Patients with chronic pain often receive long-term opioid therapy (LOT), which places them at risk of opioid use disorder and overdose. This presents the need for alternative or companion treatments; however, few studies on the association of medical cannabis (MC) with reducing opioid dosages exist.

Objective: To assess changes in opioid dosages among patients receiving MC for longer duration compared with shorter duration.

Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study of New York State Prescription Monitoring Program data from 2017 to 2019 included patients receiving MC for chronic pain while also receiving opioid treatment. Of these, patients receiving LOT prior to receiving MC were selected. Individuals were studied for 8 months after starting MC. Data were analyzed from November 2021 to February 2022.

Exposures: Selected patients were divided into 2 groups based on the duration of receiving MC: the nonexposure group received MC for 30 days or fewer, and the exposure group received MC for more than 30 days.

Main outcomes and measures: The main outcome was opioid dosage, measured by mean daily morphine milligram equivalent (MME). Analyses were conducted for 3 strata by opioid dosage prior to receiving MC: MME less than 50, MME of 50 to less than 90, and MME of 90 or greater.

Results: A total of 8165 patients were included, with 4041 (median [IQR] age, 57 [47-65] years; 2376 [58.8%] female) in the exposure group and 4124 (median [IQR] age, 54 (44-62) years; 2370 [57.5%] female) in the nonexposure group. Median (IQR) baseline MMEs for the exposure vs nonexposure groups were 30.0 (20.0-40.0) vs 30.0 (20.0-40.0) in the lowest stratum, 60.0 (60.0-70.0) vs 60.0 (60.0-90.0) in the middle stratum, and 150.0 (100.0-216.2) vs 135.0 (100.0-218.0) in the highest stratum. During follow-up, significantly greater reductions in opioid dosage were observed among the exposure group. A dose-response association of patients’ opioid dosage at baseline was observed with the differences in the monthly MME reductions between exposure and nonexposure groups, with a difference of -1.52 (95% CI, -1.67 to -1.37) MME for the lowest stratum, -3.24 (95% CI, -3.61 to -2.87) MME for the middle stratum, and -9.33 (95% CI, -9.89 to -8.77) MME for the highest stratum. The daily MME for the last month of the follow-up period among patients receiving longer MC was reduced by 48% in the lowest stratum, 47% in the middle stratum, and 51% in the highest stratum compared with the baseline dosages. Among individuals in the nonexposure group, daily MME was reduced by only 4% in the lowest stratum, 9% in the middle stratum, and 14% in the highest stratum.

Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study of patients receiving LOT, receiving MC for a longer duration was associated with reductions in opioid dosages, which may lower their risk of opioid-related morbidity and mortality.”

“This cohort study found that receiving MC for longer was associated with opioid dosage reductions. The reductions were larger among individuals who were prescribed higher dosages of opioids at baseline. These findings contribute robust evidence for clinicians regarding the potential benefits of MC in reducing the opioid burden for patients receiving LOT and possibly reduce their risk for overdose.”

“State DOH: Medical cannabis may reduce opioid burden in managing chronic pain”

Inhaled Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol does not enhance oxycodone-induced respiratory depression: randomised controlled trial in healthy volunteers

British Journal of Anaesthesia | The Royal College of Anaesthetists

“Background: In humans, the effect of cannabis on ventilatory control is poorly studied, and consequently, the effect of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) remains unknown, particularly when THC is combined with an opioid. We studied the effect of THC on breathing without and with oxycodone pretreatment. We hypothesised that THC causes respiratory depression, which is amplified when THC and oxycodone are combined.

Methods: In this randomised controlled crossover trial, healthy volunteers were administered inhaled Bedrocan® 100 mg (Bedrocan International B.V., Veendam, The Netherlands), a pharmaceutical-grade high-THC cannabis variant (21.8% THC; 0.1% cannabidiol), after placebo or oral oxycodone 20 mg pretreatment; THC was inhaled 1.5 and 4.5 h after placebo or oxycodone intake. The primary endpoint was isohypercapnic ventilation at an end-tidal Pco2 of 55 mm Hg or 7.3 kPa (VE55), measured at 1-h intervals for 7 h after placebo/oxycodone intake.

Results: In 18 volunteers (age 22 yr [3]; 9 [50%] female), oxycodone produced a 30% decrease in VE55, whereas placebo was without effect on VE55. The first cannabis inhalation resulted in VE55 changing from 20.3 (3.1) to 23.8 (2.4) L min-1 (P=0.06) after placebo, and from 11.8 (2.8) to 13.0 (3.9) L min-1 (P=0.83) after oxycodone. The second cannabis inhalation also had no effect on VE55, but slightly increased sedation.

Conclusions: In humans, THC has no effect on ventilatory control after placebo or oxycodone pretreatment.”

“In pain management, the use of THC or its combination with an opioid can be advantageous, as the combination has an opioid-sparing effect.

However, this is only of advantage provided the combination of these two drug classes does not exacerbate opioid-induced respiratory depression.

In this study, we examined the effect of inhaled medicinal-grade cannabis, containing a high THC dose, on ventilatory control in healthy human volunteers with placebo or oxycodone pretreatment. 

THC has no effect on ventilatory control after placebo or oxycodone pretreatment.

In summary, in human volunteers, THC has no significant effect on ventilatory control after placebo or oxycodone pretreatment.”

Cannabis Bioactive Compound-Based Formulations: New Perspectives for the Management of Orofacial Pain


“The management of orofacial pain to alleviate the quality of life of affected patients is becoming increasingly challenging for scientific research and healthcare professionals. From this perspective, in addition to conventional therapies, new alternatives are being sought, increasingly looking at the use of both natural and synthetic products.

Cannabis sativa L. represents an interesting source of bioactive compounds, including non-psychoactive cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, many of which are effective in improving pain intensity.

Here, we aim to analyze the possible mechanisms of action of the bioactive natural and synthetic hemp-derived compounds responsible for the modulatory effects on pain-related pathways. The ability of these compounds to act on multiple mechanisms through a synergistic effect, reducing both the release of inflammatory mediators and regulating the response of the endocannabinoid system, makes them interesting agents for alternative formulations to be used in orofacial pain.”

Evaluating the impact of cannabinoids on sleep health and pain in patients with chronic neuropathic pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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“Background: Chronic neuropathic pain is often debilitating and can have a significant impact on sleep health and quality of life. There is limited information on the impact of cannabinoids on sleep health when treating neuropathic pain.

Objective: The objectives of this systematic review and meta-analysis were to determine the effect of cannabinoids on sleep quality, pain intensity, and patient impression of treatment efficacy in patients with neuropathic pain.

Evidence review: Nine available medical literature databases were searched for randomized controlled trials comparing synthetic and natural cannabinoids to placebo in patients with neuropathic pain syndromes. Data on validated tools for sleep quality, pain intensity, patients’ global impression of change (PGIC), and incidence of adverse effects of cannabinoids were extracted and synthesized.

Findings: Of the 3491 studies screened, eight randomized controlled trials satisfied the inclusion criteria for this review. Analyses were performed using R -4.1.2. using the metafor package and are interpreted using alpha=0.05 as the threshold for statistical significance. Validated measures for sleep health were not used in most studies. Meta-analysis of data from six studies showed that cannabinoids were associated with a significant improvement in sleep quality (standardized mean difference (SMD): 0.40; 95% CI: 0.19 to -0.61, 95% prediction interval (PI): -0.12 to 0.88, p-value=0.002, I2=55.26, τ2=0.05, Q-statistic=16.72, GRADE: moderate certainty). Meta-analysis of data from eight studies showed a significant reduction in daily pain scores in the cannabinoid (CB) group (SMD: -0.55, 95% CI:-0.69 to -0.19, 95% PI: -1.51 to 0.39, p=0.003, I2=82.49, τ2=0.20, Q-statistic=47.69, GRADE: moderate certainty). However, sleep health and analgesic benefits were associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing daytime somnolence, nausea, and dizziness.

Conclusions: Cannabinoids have a role in treating chronic neuropathic pain as evidenced by significant improvements in sleep quality, pain intensity, and PGIC. More research is needed to comprehensively evaluate the impact of cannabinoids on sleep health and analgesic efficacy.”

Cannabidiol-rich non-psychotropic Cannabis sativa L. oils attenuate peripheral neuropathy symptoms by regulation of CB2-mediated microglial neuroinflammation

“Neuropathic pain (NP) is a chronic disease that affects the normal quality of life of patients. To date, the therapies available are only symptomatic and they are unable to reduce the progression of the disease. Many studies reported the efficacy of Cannabis sativa L. (C. sativa) on NP, but no Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9 -THC)-free extracts have been investigated in detail for this activity so far. The principal aim of this work is to investigate the potential pain-relieving effect of innovative cannabidiol-rich non-psychotropic C. sativa oils, with a high content of terpenes (K2), compared to the same extract devoid of terpenes (K1). Oral administration of K2 (25 mg kg-1 ) induced a rapid and long-lasting relief of pain hypersensitivity in a mice model of peripheral neuropathy. In spinal cord samples, K2 reduced mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPKs) levels and neuroinflammatory factors. These effects were reverted by the administration of a CB2 antagonist (AM630), but not by a CB1 antagonist (AM251). Conversely, K1 showed a lower efficacy in the absence of CB1/CB2-mediated mechanisms. In LPS-stimulated murine microglial cells (BV2), K2 reduced microglia pro-inflammatory phenotype through the downregulation of histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC-1) and nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B-cells inhibitor (IKBα) and increased interleukin-10 (IL-10) expression, an important antiinflammatory cytokine. In conclusion, these results suggested that K2 oral administration attenuated NP symptoms by reducing spinal neuroinflammation and underline the important role of the synergism between cannabinoids and terpenes.”

Drug-Drug Interaction Between Orally Administered Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen and Inhalation of Cannabis Smoke: A Case Report

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“Objective: To determine if a 2-day protocol measuring pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics can demonstrate drug-drug interactions when smoked cannabis is added to orally administered hydrocodone/acetaminophen combination products.

Case summary: A 51-year-old non-Hispanic white male with chronic pain diagnoses participated in a 2-day pilot protocol. The participant attended two 7-hour in-lab days where he received 10 blood draws each day and completed self-administered pain and anxiety surveys. For both days, the participant took his prescribed dose of hydrocodone/acetaminophen (1/2 tablet of 7.5 mg/325 mg combination product) with the addition of 1 smoked pre-rolled marijuana cigarette (labeled as 0.5 g; 22.17% Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol; 0.12% cannabidiol) on Day 2. Blood specimens were analyzed using mass spectrometry to quantify the difference of plasma hydrocodone levels between Day 1 and Day 2.

Results: Compared to Day 1, lower levels of pain and anxiety were reported during Day 2 with the addition of cannabis to oral hydrocodone/acetaminophen. Day 2 pharmacokinetic analysis also revealed more rapid absorption and overall lower levels of hydrocodone in plasma.

Discussion: Lower hydrocodone plasma levels in Day 2 may indicate cannabis’s effect on metabolism and reduce the risk of opioid toxicity. The quicker absorption rate of hydrocodone could explain lower pain and anxiety scores reported on the second day.

Conclusion and relevance: A 2-day protocol was able to capture differences across time in pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic measurements. Larger studies can be designed to better characterize the potential drug-drug interaction of cannabis and opioids.”