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More research needed to understand benefits, harms of cannabis for pain

SAN FRANCISCO — More research is needed to understand the harms and potential benefits of cannabis use among patients with chronic pain, Mark Ilgen, PhD, professor of psychiatry, director of the University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services and research investigator in the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said in a video interview at APA Annual Meeting.

Recently, interest in cannabis as a potential medication has increased; however, data are lacking on the real-world benefits of cannabis, Ilgen said. Unlike with standard medication, there is no dosing guideline, a lot of variability from one batch to another, and no source of information for patients on what they’re taking and how they should take it.

Ilgen talked about his work gathering descriptive data to determine whether patterns of cannabis use relate to opioid use and whether people are scaling back on their opioids as they use cannabis.

“In our sample, we’re not seeing that. It seems like both cannabis use and opioid use are pretty prevalent and tend to stay that way as people obtain medical cannabis. But we still need more research and work to understand what this looks like and — assuming there is some promise for cannabis — how we can make it more useful for patients to control symptoms and minimize the substantial side effects.”

Disclosures: Ilgen reports no relevant financial disclosures.

SAN FRANCISCO — More research is needed to understand the harms and potential benefits of cannabis use among patients with chronic pain, Mark Ilgen, PhD, professor of psychiatry, director of the University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services and research investigator in the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said in a video interview at APA Annual Meeting.

Recently, interest in cannabis as a potential medication has increased; however, data are lacking on the real-world benefits of cannabis, Ilgen said. Unlike with standard medication, there is no dosing guideline, a lot of variability from one batch to another, and no source of information for patients on what they’re taking and how they should take it.

Ilgen talked about his work gathering descriptive data to determine whether patterns of cannabis use relate to opioid use and whether people are scaling back on their opioids as they use cannabis.

“In our sample, we’re not seeing that. It seems like both cannabis use and opioid use are pretty prevalent and tend to stay that way as people obtain medical cannabis. But we still need more research and work to understand what this looks like and — assuming there is some promise for cannabis — how we can make it more useful for patients to control symptoms and minimize the substantial side effects.”

Disclosures: Ilgen reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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