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Medical Cannabis for Pain: Real-world Data

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

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A 2023 study entitled "Medicinal Cannabis for Pain: Real-world Data on Three-month Changes in Symptoms and Quality of Life" that was published in the peer-reviewed journal Drug Science explored the preliminary findings for a group of patients suffering chronic pain resulting from an observational study in Australia called Project Twenty21. The study followed patients prescribed medical cannabis for anxiety, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and PTSD for up to 12 months.

A painting of a man in agony, with his bands on his head
Does cannabis help pain?

The researchers examined Project Twenty21 participants who were prescribed medical cannabis for chronic pain. Patients completed questionnaires at the beginning of the study period and then every three months for up to a year. They assessed pain severity and interference and their influence on quality of life, mood, and sleep quality.


Medical Cannabis for Pain Study Results

"55 participants with chronic pain had completed the first three-month follow-up," wrote the study, which observed that patients reported a low quality of life. After three months, participants demonstrated "significant reductions in self-reported pain intensity and pain interference." The scientists also observed large improvements in general health, quality of life, mood/depression, and sleep.


The study's authors labeled their results as "promising" and said they observed "significant improvements in pain, quality of life, sleep, and mood." They claimed the superiority of their real-world data, including variable and individualized medical cannabis treatment over a longer period. The researchers claimed this real-world data "can provide valuable information in relation to effectiveness and safety, which can help guide clinicians in its use."


The study's authors labeled their results as "promising" and said they observed "significant improvements in pain, quality of life, sleep, and mood."

The study concluded that this data, in combination with other scientific investigations, including case studies, can help form "a more robust evidence base." It also noted that increasing numbers of Australians are using medical cannabis and that, overall, there is more and more evidence of its effectiveness and safety.


Based on this, the scientists recommended that medical cannabis be made more widely available in Australia, including reductions in cost to make it more accessible to pain patients.


Visit the original study.

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