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  • Writer's pictureRandy Shaffer

Study: Marijuana Increases Threshold & Tolerance for Pain

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

It has been widely reported for many years that marijuana has a direct effect on pain. In addition to mountains of data and scientific research, we have heard hundreds of anecdotal stories from patients who are really suffering. And in every case, the patient reports finding relief from marijuana consumption.

This is why so many states, including Ohio, have chronic or intractable pain on their list of conditions approved for medical marijuana treatment. But a new study may offer an explanation for why marijuana offers pain relief -- it doesn't. Not really. Rather, marijuana increases your threshold for pain, allowing for relief via a better tolerance of the pain itself.

Pain Study - More Tolerance, Less Pain

This explosive study, first reported by Healio, comes from Syracuse doctoral student, Martin De Vita. The study was published just this week (9/19/18) in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and combined data from over 18 different placebo-controlled studies, covering more than 442 patients. 233 (52.7%) were male and 209 (47.3%) were female.

Though the study found that patients were able to tolerate their pain, cannabinoids did not seem to have an effect on reducing pain or inflammation.

“Our cumulative results indicated that although cannabinoid drugs may prevent the onset of pain by producing small increases in pain thresholds, they didn’t significantly reduce the intensity of experimental pain that is already being experienced,” De Vita said in a statement. “Instead, cannabinoid drugs made experimental pain feel less unpleasant and more tolerable.”

De Vita went on to explain that marijuana may act much like alcohol does in the system, which renders a subject inebriated, and thus able to endure more pain or inflammation.

"Intoxicated mental states could alter aspects of the pain experience to provide relief." De Vita writes. "The clinical relevance of this distinction depends on the desired treatment outcome. If treatment aims to relieve pain without producing intoxication, psychoactive cannabinoids may not suffice. Pain unpleasantness is associated with functional status outcomes (eg, pain-related interference), but it remains unclear whether improvements in functionality would be offset by cannabinoid intoxication. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids (eg, CBD) should be investigated in future experimental pain or analgesia studies. Additional research is needed to determine whether expectancies for cannabinoid analgesia alter pain responses."

It may be important to note that De Vita's research was funded by the Syracuse University STEM Fellowship , the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Unfortunately, with a sampling size so small, it is impossible to gather enough conclusive data on the subject. But until cannabis is dropped from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, not nearly enough research will be able to be conducted in the United States.

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic or intractable pain is defined as pain lasting for more than 12 weeks. Living in pain for this amount of time is debilitating and negatively impacts quality of life. Oftentimes, the most basic of activities can become challenging, whether that be getting out of bed, or putting on a shirt. This type of pain and stress not only takes a physical toll on your body, but it is often draining on an emotional level. As a result, many sufferers of chronic pain find themselves depressed or lacking motivation to complete their daily routines.

Chronic pain is now commonplace, with roughly 50 million Americans diagnosed with the ailment. There are about 1.8 million Ohioans alone who suffer from chronic pain, many of whom rely on opioid-based medications for relief. Individuals living with chronic or intractable pain are now eligible for treatment with medical marijuana. This is great news, as it provides Ohio residents access to a safe alternative to opiates.

What Types Of Pain Qualify For Medical Marijuana In Ohio?

There are numerous ailments that qualify a patient for medical marijuana, but chronic pain is one of the more nebulous conditions. So what types of pain qualify as "chronic" or "intractable" in the eyes of Ohio? Here's a quick list to help you out:

  • Cancer pain

  • Neuropathic pain

  • Lower back pain

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Sciatica

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Migraines

  • Recurring Headaches

  • Neck pain

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Accident and injury-related pa

How Do I Get A Medical Marijuana Card In Ohio?

A medical marijuana recommendation is required by the state in order for a patient to receive an Ohio medical marijuana card and enter marijuana dispensaries. Once a patient determines that they have one or more of the 21 medical conditions Ohio has approved for medical marijuana use, they must obtain copies of their medical records from their current physicians documenting their qualifying condition.

Patients can then set up an appointment with one of Ohio Marijuana Card’s doctors, who will look over their medical records, perform a brief non-invasive examination, and determine if the patient should receive a recommendation for medical marijuana.

The doctor’s recommendation is then sent off to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Once received, the Board of Pharmacy will reach to patients, who then pay a small registration fee to register as a medical marijuana patient. Once this fee is paid, the Board of Pharmacy will issue an official medical marijuana card to the patient.

If you have any questions about your chronic or intractable pain, or would like to set up an appointment with one of our state-certified medical marijuana doctors, click here or call 1-866-457-5559.


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