Of those surveyed, more than 80 percent reported suffering from chronic pain; half reported suffering from acute pain; and 42 percent reported suffering from both. On average, respondents had tried four different treatment methods for their pain. Twenty-five percent of respondents reported having tried six or more.
Patients reported that cannabis was a highly effective pain management tool with few negative side effects. Patient-reported outcomes for cannabis therapy contrasted particularly sharply with those for opiates, which while effective for pain, had a negative impact on quality of life measurements in a significant number of patients.
Notably, around half of patients said that opiates had a negative impact on their lives. Furthermore, a significant number of patients reported that using cannabis led to lower rates of opioid usage.
These observations are supported by public health statistics. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported in 2015, “In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal.”
“This survey brings some very important information to light,” Caston said. “We see here in our patient data that cannabis is improving the quality of life of our patients — particularly elderly patients suffering from age-related pain — and that it does so without the dangerous side effects of other pain management modalities.”
The study concluded: “A tenet of healthcare in the United States is ‘First, do no harm.’ Patient reports of cannabis’ efficacy together with its low side effect profile suggest that it should be considered as a first-line treatment for pain and/or as an adjunct treatment to opiates rather than as a medication of last resort.”