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Most Common Reason Given for Medical Marijuana Prescription: Chronic Pain

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For the more than 2 million medical marijuana patients in the US, chronic pain is the most common reason among patients requesting a marijuana prescription, according to an analysis published in the journal, Health Affairs. This is closely followed by stiffness from multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-related nausea.

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While the analysis didn’t gather metrics on whether marijuana was helping alleviate these ailments, they are problems that are said to be eased by chemical components found in cannabis. According to lead author Kevin Boehnke, the analysis provides “support for legitimate evidence-based use of cannabis that is at direct odds with its current drug schedule status.” The findings are also important, he said, “as more people look for safer pain management alternatives in light of the current opioid epidemic.”

The study was conducted to better understand whether medical marijuana patients were finding therapeutic efficacy from their prescriptions. Of all the patient-reported qualifying conditions, 85.5% of respondents were found to have substantial improvements from chronic pain, nausea, and relief from multiple sclerosis symptoms.

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“We did this study because we wanted to understand the reasons why people are using cannabis medically, and whether those reasons for use are evidence based,” Boehnke said, in an announcement about the study.

33 states have legalized medical marijuana, while 10 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The findings from this study do not seem to be surprising, as the country is embroiled in an opioid epidemic, and many patients are turning to a more holistic form of pain relief. The researchers involved in the study argue that it’s time for the federal government to change marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, which shares a spot with much more harmful drugs like heroin and methamphetamine.

“Since the majority of states in the U.S. have legalized medical cannabis, we should consider how best to adequately regulate cannabis and safely incorporate cannabis into medical practice,” said Boehnke. One promising development is the legalization of hemp, which has opened the floodgates for legal CBD products to enter the market. However, marijuana remains a illegal at the federal level, though there are plans slated to commence in hopes of pushing it towards a federally legal future.

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