Marijuana " The answer to chronic pain? |

Marijuana " The answer to chronic pain?

As a painkiller, the use of marijuana may be controversial, but some patients and doctors swear by it.

At a recent forum on medical marijuana hosted by the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office, dozens of Nevada County residents swore the plant was the only thing that could treat their chronic pain, brought on by everything from back injuries to colitis.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institutes of Health held a workshop in 1997 to discuss research on the possible therapeutic uses for smoked marijuana.

Panel members concluded that, because there are too few scientific studies to prove marijuana’s therapeutic utility for certain conditions, additional research is needed.

There is evidence, the NINDS reported, that “receptors to which marijuana binds are found in many brain regions that process information that can produce pain.”

While federal law prohibits the use of cannabis to treat pain, state law allows use of the plant for medicinal purposes. Local governments are charged with determining enforceable limits.

Grass Valley pain management specialist Dr. Stephen Banister said his patients also use marijuana to treat pain associated with fibromyalgia and migraines.

Patients use cannabis a variety of ways, he said, including eating, inhaling and as a topical solution.

He said cannabis can produce a “four-point pain drop,” cutting a person’s pain level in half.

According to O’Shaughnessey’s, The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice, different strains of cannabis contain different mixes of cannabinoids and terpenes that give them distinct qualities.

“It’s a rather individual thing,” Banister said. “A lot of people use it to sleep, for some, it keeps them awake. There are more an more strains all of the time.”

He said he knows of at least 50 strains, each with different mixtures of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis.


To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail or call 477-4236.

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