Recent studies on marijuana in England, Israel and Canada acknowledge the benefits of smoking marijuana to manage pain. Researchers in Israel noticed a significant decline in the amount of prescribed medications taken by patients. After a yearlong study they noted participants took 1.7 pills less per day when smoking marijuana. Along with pain relief, each of the 72 patients studied also reported other positive effects after smoking three times daily over the course of the one year study. Researchers from McGill University in Canada reported that patients with chronic neuropathic pain experienced pain relief, improved mood and better quality sleep after smoking cannabis. In England, Dr. Michael Lee from the University of Oxford has done research involving participants taking MRI’s after smoking marijuana. Dr. Lee stated “'Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine. Some people respond really well, others not at all, or even poorly. Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates. Instead cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way.” These MRIs may be able to predict who will respond to cannabis according to Dr. Lee.
This international research may have lit a fire under researchers in America as the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse funded a study that concluded what thousands of marijuana users have known for years, marijuana helps for pain management. Don’t light a celebration joint just yet. The new study conducted at Columbia University in New York suggests that a pharmaceutical drug containing the active ingredient of marijuana may be more effective for pain when compared to smoking the herb. The study group was comprised of 15 men and 15 women who were regular marijuana smokers in good health. In five experimental sessions participants were asked to smoke marijuana, take the oral pill, or a placebo. They then participated in a “cold pressure test”, in which they placed their hands in 39 degree water and answered questions about the intensity of pain and how high they felt. Both the smoked marijuana and the higher dose pharmaceutical pill increased pain tolerance and decreased pain sensitivity as the people took an average of 12 to 13 seconds longer to report feeling pain from the cold water than when they took the placebo. While the group felt the effects from the joint peak in 15 minutes, the capsule took almost three hours. Researchers noted that the pill and the joint were equally effective at controlling pain but suggested that the pill offered longer relief compared to the smoked marijuana. Subjects also felt less high when taking the capsule than smoking the joint.
So what is this new miracle drug? It’s called dronabinol but you may know it as the FDA approved drug Marinol. That’s right, the same shitty drug that has caused nausea and other horrible side effects since 1985 is making a comeback with a new generic name and propaganda. The price for dronabinal remains at a staggering $700 a month, but your insurance company will have plenty of economic incentive to cover most of that expense. With such large kickbacks available it is certain that the pharmaceutical companies will have all the backing they need as they attempt to take over the medical marijuana world. Hold onto your joints, this is going to be one long ride.