Study: Medical Cannabis May Present a "Useful Treatment Strategy" for Fibromyalgia Patients
Montreal, Canada: Cannabis products are associated with symptom relief among fibromyalgia (FM) patients, according to data published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
Canadian researchers assessed the efficacy of medical cannabis products (flower or extracts) over a one-year period in a cohort of patients with FM. Investigators assessed patients' levels of pain intensity, sleep quality, and depression/anxiety every three months. All of the subjects enrolled in the study were qualified to use medical cannabis products by their general practitioner.
Consistent with other studies, researchers reported an association between the consumption of medical cannabis and improvements in subjects' sleep, depression/anxiety, and pain - with the greatest reduction in pain intensity (a mean decrease of 1.7 points on a zero to 10 scale) occurring within the first six-months of treatment.
Authors reported: "Our current findings are consistent with observations of pain relief, improved sleep, and alleviation of symptoms of anxiety and depression in other studies among patients with chronic pain using medical cannabis. Although preliminary, our findings suggest that improvements in negative affect and sleep might represent potential mechanisms of action underlying pain reductions among FM patients who are using medical cannabis."
They concluded, "Medical cannabis may present a useful treatment strategy for patients with FM in light of an effect on the triad of symptoms of pain, negative affect, and sleep disturbances."
Survey data reports that fibromyalgia patients frequently consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes. A recent review of the relevant literature concluded, "[T]he use of cannabinoids and cannabis carries limited side effects in the treatment of FM, and they can also improve some common and debilitating symptoms associated with FM, thus making them an adequate potential treatment option, when other treatment lines have been exhausted."
Full text of the study, "Predictors of pain reduction among fibromyalgia patients using medical cannabis: A long-term prospective cohort trial," appears in Arthritis Care & Research.
Congress: Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Designate Funding for Clinical Trials on the Efficacy of State-Licensed Medical Cannabis Products
Washington, DC: Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) have introduced legislation, the Developing and Nationalizing Key Cannabis Research Act of 2022, to provide designated funding for clinical research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
The legislation authorizes the Director of the National Institutes of Health to designate "institutions of higher education as Centers for Excellence in Cannabis Research for the purpose of interdisciplinary research related to cannabis and other biomedical, behavioral, and social issues related to cannabis." This research will explicitly include clinical investigations assessing "the safety and efficacy of cannabis in providing therapeutic benefits for certain priority diseases or conditions" as well as studies evaluating "the relative risk of cannabis as compared to alcohol and tobacco," among other purposes.
To carry out this work, the measure appropriates $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2024 to 2028 to ten designated research centers. It also allows scientists affiliated with these designated centers to obtain state-legal cannabis products and to administer those products to subjects in clinical trials.
Under current federal law and regulations, researchers are prohibited from clinically evaluating any state-licensed products. Rather, scientists wishing to study cannabis in clinical settings must utilize cannabis provided by federally-licensed entities - of which there has been only one (the University of Mississippi) for more than 50+ years. (In May 2021, the agency announced that it had reached agreements with a handful of third-party applicants to allow them to grow cannabis for use in federally approved clinical trials. However, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse has yet to officially partner with any of these entities and there is no explicit timeline as to when they will do so.) Scientists have long complained that the quality of cannabis provided by the University of Mississippi's cultivation program is of inferior quality and that it is not representative of the products available in state-legal markets.
Last month, members of the US House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation, "The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act," to facilitate cannabis-specific scientific research and potential drug development. That language is anticipated to be fast-tracked to the President's desk. However, it does not authorize scientists to access cannabis flowers and other products manufactured in accordance with state-approved marijuana programs.
"This proposed legislation is long overdue," NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "It seeks to address knowledge gaps by providing dedicated funding so that scientists can better understand the safety and efficacy of real-world products - products that are currently being consumed by patients and by others daily in the majority of states in America."
Despite federal hurdles, scientific interest and studies involving cannabis have increased significantly over the past two decades. Since 2010, scientists in the US and around the world have published an estimated 30,000 peer-reviewed papers referencing the cannabis plant or its constituents, with the annual number of total papers increasing every year. By comparison, researchers published fewer than 3,000 total papers about marijuana in the years between 1990 and 1999 and fewer than 2,000 total studies during the 1980s.
Study: Medical Cannabis Associated with Pain Mitigation, Reduced Reliance on Opioids in Patients with Advanced Cancer
Syracuse, NY: Patients with advanced cancer respond favorably to medical cannabis, according to data published in the journal Cureus.
Investigators affiliated with Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York evaluated cancer patients' use of cannabis for palliative purposes. All of the participants in the trial were enrolled in the state's medical cannabis registry.
Consistent with prior data, the majority of subjects (85 percent) reported symptom improvements following their use of cannabis - with nearly half reporting reductions in their pain. Also consistent with prior studies, a significant percentage (45 percent) of subjects reported decreasing their use of opioid pain medications. Very few participants (less than four percent) experienced adverse effects from their use of medical cannabis products.
"Medical marijuana appears to have an important role in the palliation of symptoms in advanced cancers with few adverse effects," authors concluded. "Prospective studies examining this treatment modality should be prioritized."
Full text of the study, "Experience with medical marijuana for cancer patients in the palliative setting," appears in Cureus.
Survey: Middle-Aged Women Frequently Report Cannabis Use to Mitigate Menopause Symptoms
Belmont, MA: Many middle-aged women acknowledge consuming cannabis products to alleviate menopause-related symptoms, according to survey data published in the journal Menopause.
A team of researchers affiliated with McLean Hospital and with Harvard Medical School in Boston surveyed 258 women (median age: 51 years old) regarding their use of cannabis.
The majority of respondents (79 percent) said that cannabis effectively treats menopause-related symptoms. Women were most likely to report using cannabis to alleviate sleep disturbances and to regulate mood. Respondents were most likely to report consuming cannabis via smoking.
"The current study indicates that many individuals are currently using commercially available MC [medical cannabis] products as an adjunct treatment for menopause-related symptoms. ... The most commonly reported indications for MC use were menopause-related disturbance of sleep and mood/anxiety, indicating these symptoms may be salient targets for future clinical trials of cannabinoid-based therapies," authors concluded. "Future research should continue to examine MC use for menopause-related symptoms, including assessing how unique cannabinoid profiles, modes of use, and other MC use characteristics impact safety and efficacy."
Previous surveys, such as those here and here, have estimated that one-third of women consume cannabis for purposes of managing menopause-related symptoms.
Full text of the study, "A survey of medical cannabis use during peri-menopause and post-menopause," appears in Menopause.
Massachusetts: Lawmakers Advance Legislation Creating 'Social Equity Trust Fund,' Facilitating Licensing of On-Site Consumption Lounges
Boston, MA: House and Senate lawmakers have advanced legislation (S. 3096) which seeks to promote greater diversity among those participating in the state's licensed cannabis industry and that lays the groundwork for the establishment of on-site cannabis consumption facilities.
Specifically, the measure creates a "Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund to encourage the full participation ... of entrepreneurs from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement." Money in the fund "shall be used to make grants and loans, including no-interest loans and forgivable loans, to social equity program participants and economic empowerment priority applicants."
In addition, the bill provides guidance for the eventual licensing of on-site adult-use consumption facilities. It also calls on state officials to conduct a study and to make recommendations "to ensure that students have access to [the] medical use of marijuana" while they attend school.
To date, only a handful of states - including Alaska and Nevada - have allowances for social consumption facilities. By contrast, many states now provide allowances for qualified students to access cannabis products while on school grounds.
The bill now awaits action from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who reportedly favors the bill and is expected to sign it into law.