Medical marijuana now under a cloud
MORE than 100 approvals have been issued for doctors in Queensland to prescribe medicinal marijuana since it became legal in March last year, but a new study has cast doubt over its ability to reduce the intensity of pre-existing pain or help people who are hypersensitive to pain.
The US study of existing research looking at cannabinoid drugs for pain relief found they were associated with modest increases in pain threshold and tolerance, no reduction in ongoing pain, reduced perceived unpleasantness of painful stimuli and no reduction in pain hypersensitivity.
However the researchers said the drugs could make pre-existing pain less unpleasant and more tolerable.
The research, published today in JAMA Psychiatry, analysed 18 placebo-controlled studies, including a total of 422 participants.
A Queensland Health spokesman said since March 1, 2017, there had been 108 approvals issued to doctors under the single-patient prescriber pathway in Queensland.
In Australia, medicinal cannabis products were both schedule 8 and schedule 4 medicines.
Queensland's laws do not limit what symptoms or conditions may be applied for by a doctor.
However, they do state that in making the application the doctor would need to supply sufficient scientific evidence that supported the use of medicinal cannabis for the particular symptom or condition.
Common things medicinal cannabis is used to treat include; severe muscular spasms and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, some types of epilepsy with severe seizures and for palliative care.
It is not legal to smoke marijuana but vaporisation using an approved vaporiser is a possible alternative.
The study called for more research in the effectiveness of using cannabis for pain relief.
"Despite substantial legal changes surrounding medical cannabis, consensus is emerging that better quality research is needed to understand the analgesic efficacy of cannabinoids," the paper said.