Medical cannabis: A forward vision for the clinician

Medical cannabis has entered mainstream medicine and is here to stay. Propelled by public advocacy, the media and mostly anecdote rather than sound scientific study, patients worldwide are exploring marijuana use for a vast array of medical conditions including management of chronic pain. Contrary to the usual path of drug approval, medical cannabis has bypassed traditional evidence-based study and has been legalized as a therapeutic product by legislative bodies in various countries. While there is a wealth of basic science and preclinical studies demonstrating effects of cannabinoids in neurobiological systems, especially those pertaining to pain and inflammation, clinical study remains limited.

Medical Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain

Many cultures throughout history have used cannabis to treat a variety of painful ailments. Neuropathic pain is a complicated condition that is challenging to treat with our current medications. Recent scientific discovery has elucidated the intricate role of the endocannabinoid system in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain. As societal perceptions change, and legislation on medical cannabis relaxes, there is growing interest in the use of medical cannabis for neuropathic pain. The results suggest medical cannabis may be as tolerable and effective as current neuropathic agents; however, more studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of medical cannabis use. Furthermore, continued research to optimize dosing, cannabinoid ratios, and alternate routes of administration may help to refine the therapeutic role of medical cannabis for neuropathic pain.

Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers?

Recent work finds that medical marijuana laws reduce the daily doses filled for opioid analgesics among Medicare Part-D and Medicaid enrollees, as well as population-wide opioid overdose deaths. We replicate the result for opioid overdose deaths and explore the potential mechanism. These findings suggest that broader access to medical marijuana facilitates substitution of marijuana for powerful and addictive opioids.

Cannabidiol restores intestinal barrier dysfunction and inhibits the apoptotic process induced by Clostridium difficile toxin A in Caco-2 cells

Clostridium difficile toxin A is responsible for colonic damage observed in infected patients. Drugs able to restore Clostridium difficile toxin A-induced toxicity have the potential to improve the recovery of infected patients. Cannabidiol is a non-psychotropic component of Cannabis sativa, which has been demonstrated to protect enterocytes against chemical and/or inflammatory damage and to restore intestinal mucosa integrity. Cannabidiol improved Clostridium difficile toxin A-induced damage in Caco-2 cells, by inhibiting the apoptotic process and restoring the intestinal barrier integrity, through the involvement of the CB1 receptor.

Patient Perceptions of the Use of Medical Marijuana in the Treatment of Pain After Musculoskeletal Trauma: A Survey of Patients at 2 Trauma Centers in Massachusetts

The majority of patients in this study believed that medical marijuana is a valid treatment and that it does have a role in reducing postinjury and postoperative pain. Those patients who used marijuana during their recovery felt that it alleviated symptoms of pain and reduced their opioid intake. Our results help inform clinicians regarding the perceptions of patients with trauma regarding the usefulness of marijuana in treating pain and support further study into the utility of medical marijuana in this population

[Cannabis in Parkinson’s Disease: Hype or help?]

Cannabis buds and extracts as well as synthetic cannabinoids have been available on prescription to patients with severe diseases since March 2017, with the costs covered by health insurance companies.The prescription of medical marihuana is not restricted to specific symptoms and is therefore also valid for patients with Parkinson’s disease. From a legal perspective, patients who are seriously ill even have the right to be treated with cannabis if standard treatment methods are unsuccessful or result in unbearable side effects. This also applies even if only a slight chance of noticeable improvement is predicted as a result of the cannabis treatment.

Second-Hand Exposure of Staff Administering Vaporised Cannabinoid Products to Patients in a Hospital Setting

In many health settings, administration of medicinal cannabis poses significant implementation barriers including drug storage and safety for administering staff and surrounding patients. Different modes of administration also provide different yet potentially significant issues. One route that has become of clinical interest owing to the rapid onset of action and patient control of the inhaled amount (via breath timing and depth) is that of vaporisation of cannabinoid products. Although requiring a registered therapeutic device for administration, this is a relatively safe method of intrapulmonary administration that may be particularly useful for patients with difficulty swallowing, and for those in whom higher concentrations of cannabinoids are needed quickly. Research results are reassuring for hospital and clinical trial practices with staff administering vaporised cannabinoid products, and helpful to ethics committees wishing to quantify risk.

The role of cannabinoids in pain control: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Cannabinoids appear to possess many potential medical uses, which may extend to pain control. A narrative review of the literature has found a variety of studies testing botanical and synthetic cannabinoids in different pain syndromes (acute pain, cancer pain, chronic noncancer pain, fibromyalgia pain, migraine, neuropathic pain, visceral pain, and others). Results from these studies are mixed; cannabinoids appear to be most effective in controlling neuropathic pain, allodynia, medication-rebound headache, and chronic noncancer pain. A great deal more remains to be elucidated about cannabinoids which may emerge to play an important role in the treatment of neuropathic and possibly other painful conditions. There remains a great deal more to learn about the role of cannabinoids in pain management.

Cannabis Use is Associated with Lower Odds of Prescription Opioid Analgesic Use Among HIV-Infected Individuals with Chronic Pain

We conducted a secondary data analysis of screening interviews conducted as part of a parent randomized trial of financial incentives to improve HIV outcomes among drug users. In a convenience sample of people with HIV and chronic pain, we collected self-report data on demographic characteristics. Our data suggest that new medical cannabis legislation might reduce the need for opioid analgesics for pain management, which could help to address adverse events associated with opioid analgesic use.

Medical Cannabis, a Beneficial High in Treatment of Blepharospasm? An Early Observation

A retrospective chart review was performed on patients certified for medical cannabis use for blepharospasm from September 2015 to May 2016. Ten patients were certified for medical cannabis use. Five met the inclusion criteria, which was any patient with a diagnosis of BEB receiving standard botulinum toxin treatment who had started medical cannabis treatment by a registered distributor within the state, and was contactable by phone. Four patients discontinued use. Three out of four patients (75%) reported symptomatic improvement. Medical cannabis is an accepted therapy for muscle spastic disorders.