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Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain

A variety of medical literature on medical marijuana, dating from 1948 to March 2015, was reviewed via MEDLINE in 2015. An emphasis was placed on 28 randomized clinical trials of cannabinoids as pharmacotherapy, specifically for conditions other than those for which there are 2 US Food and Drug Administration–approved cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone). The conditions analyzed included nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and appetite stimulation in wasting illnesses.

Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is also supported by high-quality evidence. MEDLINE reviewed six trials that included 325 patients with chronic pain, 6 trials that included 396 patients with neuropathic pain, and 12 trials that included 1600 patients focused on multiple sclerosis. Many of these trials had positive results, suggesting that marijuana or cannabinoids may be efficacious for these indications.


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