Medical Marijuana Reduces Severe Chronic Pain: Effectiveness and Side Effects

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On Tuesday July 9, Hawaii decriminalized marijuana, making it the 26th state to decriminalize or legalize the drug.


Medical marijuana has been decriminalized in more than half of the state in the US, though it’s still illegal at federal level.


Ever wondered why more and more states decriminalize marijuana or medical marijuana? You should ask those who are suffering chronic pain. Research has shown that marijuana performs better than OTC drugs on pain relief.


The new law in Hawaii allows people to possess up to 3 grams of cannabis with no danger of jail time but $130 fine. Repeat offenses and possession of larger amounts can still result in more severe sentences.


This is good news for people who suffer from severe chronic pain and cannot get help with OTC treatments. It offers them a new alternative for the pain that influences their normal life.




How cannabis relieves different types of pain?


Pain can be triggered by a variety of reasons. But generally, there are three categories of pain.


Nociceptive pain


Nociceptive pain results from tissue damage. It usually happens when you get injured because the immune cells release some proteins and chemicals, which can lead to pains, to repair the damage.


Neuropathic pain


Neuropathic pain is a common kind of pain which affects 7-10% of the population and can result from forceful injury, pinching, stabbing or disease that damages nerves. Chemotherapy is also a common cause of neuropathic pain because it destructs different types of cells in the body.



Central pain


Central pain emerged as a catch-all term for types of pain that arise from dysfunction to the nervous system. Central pain usually arises in the absence of any known cause, which makes it particularly hard to treat.


Why cannabis works


The reason medical marijuana works is due to two substances it contains for pain relieving: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (YHC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC can make you high, while CBD doesn’t have mind-altering effects.


Medical marijuana can be taken by smoking the leaves, taking a pill or liquid, or having it baked with foods. Dosage, side effects, and the way to use vary with the way of taking.


The chemicals can connect with specific parts of cells called receptors to reduce the pain. However, detailed process of how the drug affects isn’t clear yet.


You can’t use medical marijuana freely as you want. Diseases you can use it to treat include Alzheimer’s, ALS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, seizures, hepatitis C, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and severe nausea.



What are the side effects?


The side effects of cannabis include

Lung disease (when smoked)

Cardiovascular disease

Injuries while working or driving high

Long-term effects on the brain


While cannabis is moderately effective for chronic pain, it cannot help with pain like sunburn or post-surgery, and may even make it worse.


For some people, cannabis actually increases their sensitivity to acute pain, according to experts.

7 Answers

These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.
What strength do I need for Osteoarthritisis have it everywhere.Its bad in both knees ,my back and one ankle/ heal. It doesnt help me so far. Maybe I need a lot stronger caps. How long does it take to work.????
Opioid Crisis is another passion of the buck because they can’t stop people from self medicating with street drugs as they get called. I’m also at the end of my rope after breakdown of spinal fusion 12, 1 & 2. Left knee replaced 10 years ago is now hurting again as well as right one. Ankylosing Spondylitis, severe spinal stenosis & joint break down have me fed up. I nearly died from all of the nsaids & other junk rather than the real pain medication of dilaudid. Morphine not tolerated & caused vomiting & abdominal pain. I gave up patch voluntarily because it wasn’t worth the effort, then without me looking he cut my minimal dose oxycodone without Tylenol to an even lower dose! If we let our animals suffer like we are forced to suffer, we would definitely be fined & maybe jailed! Our meager relief no longer relieving much of anything. I’m hoping to eventually try the edibles as I’ve heard that they affect a person differently & pleasantly. Adult should be allowed to ingest anything they want! If you are educated in your drugs of choice & maintain your life as a responsible person, the decision must be yours! If you overdose, it’s on you! If you got some relief & finally smiled, great! We shouldn’t be made to suffer while they write bs scripts to look like they are treating us with compassion! They are merely putting pen to pad & getting paid for your monthly visits & for the useless scripts they write. I’m sick of it. If we ever get fully legalized I hope to try the edibles. The pain is killing me & no energy ever! I see why people use “illegal” drugs they work!!! Pain relief & stimulants as needed or desired. What? We might die;) ??? I’m going to from the years of pain & just growing older, so what’s the down side. As I said, be responsible & private with your practices. I going out of this world as comfortably as possible. I also cannot tolerate any more surgeries. A jerk intubate me with a size 8 endotracheal tube & injured my trachea. He did this on at least 3 surgeries & the last one caused my trachea to spontaneously to collapse like the neck of a ballon & I was seconds from dead! In horror I as my lungs & brain felt like they were exploding from inability to breath, I grabbed an inhaler & sprayed it at the back of my throat & the moisture from the spray must have caused the laryngospasm to stop & the stuck together tissue finally peeled slightly apart enough to let me get air & avoid certain death! Now I’m taking an active role in what I will or will not take as well as what I will allow to be done for my body & bones. I’m tired of being miserable & withdrawing because of mobility difficulties due to grinding bone joints & deformity. Name them what you will, if it hurts it doesn’t matter what name they give it. My heart goes out to all of the people suffering in pain. Oh, check out the side effects of nearly every joke script they write. Liver failure, kidney failure, stroke, contains carcinogens in a hypertension med, & a statin caused multiple dysrhythmias from one pill !  Yet we are told any drugs they aren’t on board with will kill us. Drink enough water & you could die of water intoxication! Stay true to yourself. May we all get relief of our pain & stop being left to live a nightmare until we are dead.
I love you and thank you for speaking my exact mind, I'm suffering now wishing I had a tiny amount of Mary Jane. Its to sad. And yes we I die every day without the money or the dr to provide real working pain relief I suffer in all ways. I'm so sick of it. So thank you.
I just had my 2nd herringtonrod implant that makes 2 herringtonrods to keep my spine straight and I am still bent forward and the pain, even with my oxycodone, lyrica, and neurontin is un-manageable. I cant do medicinal because if I test positive for it they'll take my oxy away. Even though I tell the doctor it helps. Does CBD really work? Also how did you end up bedridden? I tried taking my life 2yrs ago to the day because of my pain, no doctor understands any of us chronic pain sufferers, it's sad. Then they wanna take away our pain meds because they think everyone abuses it now! Such bullshit! I had a pain specialist leave me high and dry a few months ago when he decided to not prescribe narcotics anymore when he had me on 6 30mg oxy a day gave me my last one month supply and adios. I was seeing him since 2015. I told him I'd never find a doctor in 30 days to prescribe me the same dose and he says yes I know good luck..I couldn't believe it.  Anyhow my pain is worse now than ever. My rod was put in Nov.2018 a few months ago. I've had 13 back surgeries total due to D.D.D And scoliosis also have fibromyalgia and arthritis throughout my entire body.  I love to be hugged, but it hurts too much now. I'll be  53 this week and my quality of life sucks! Thank you for sharing.  God bless you!
I have arthritis in the pelvis and nothing much they can do for it. looking for anything to ease the constant pain. Use CBD but doesn't get rid of it.
Hi did you take any medications before CBD? is this your first choice? I suggest you to try NDSAIDs such as celecoxib, arcoxia etc. In addition, avoid of recurent posture of bending and bearing heavy things in your daily life to prevent it to get worse. Furthermore, if you are overweight, to lose weight is also a basic treatment method.
Yes, my mother went into total kidney failure and ultimately died just over a year ago. See was always anemic??? She has bad osteoarthritis and hip neck pain. A masters level nurse, who later in life changed to cheating and writing for Liptoncott Nursing manuals. She would share on aleve.
Taking it religiously cause she said it was magic took all the pain away. Well she did that for a couple decades...they caused renal failure which took her life.

I almost died to...on a COX 2 inhibitor (type of NSAID) having been switched by my Dr. Well,
I began to look purple or my veins did, and burning like fire ants and then these painful bumps under my skin, and red spots where the stinging was which turn into bruises. I was hospitalized which reaction of Vasculitis from the NSAID. Total never to take NSAIDS or as a again and I have not!!

AND COULD HAVE KILLED ME AS THE VASCULITIS caused +D DIMER Test indicating a blotclot somewhere..there were several.
So please be informed about these meds.
I’m so sorry to hear of your loses & near death. Listen to your body is my code from here on out. My life, my body , ultimately my death and they are killing me letting me suffer. I’m a Paramedic & like your Mom I catch them trying to bs me. No more. If I am going to die it will be comfortably in my own home, God willing. Stay away from statins too. Those docs get kick backs for all of those nasty scripts they write. “Educational “ conferences, etc.are really vacations to their homeland or wherever. We used to go to one doc that took care of everything! Now I’m running everywhere to see one decent doc that I do trust. Keep in touch. We only have each other to listen or understand & sometimes the only ones that care. Don’t give up & fight back. I’m going to seriously think about dumping doctor & going green! God bless you.
Girl!!! You and I are in the exact diagnosis and pain boat! I also have Fibro and something called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (or M.E.) that is what keeps me bedridden. It sounds to me that you also have Flat Back Syndrome. This is what happens to us years after our Herrington Rod surgeries. My spine specialist says this is why I’m bent over. He also said this is one of the most painful spinal conditions there is. I live in Mississippi where we just passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana. It will take 10-13 months for dispensaries to be licensed and set up throughout the State-but I plan to try it. My pain clinic said that they can prescribe it to see if it helps me any. They of course couldn’t do this when it was illegal. My 70 year old husband is my full time care giver-which is so unfair to him. I would be in a State run home for the infirm if not for him. I am only 59, and I’m scared to death of what will happen if and when he dies. I think I shall join him when that time comes.
Amen!!! And TY.! Im so sory for all the misshaps.
The one thing I would like to throw out there is that EVERY DIFFERENT STRAIN OF Marijuana CBD or THC. Does different  things to different people.. buying CBD in a store instead of a medical grower down the road. They do not tell you the strain they use.
For instance Look up what it has been known to help people with. If they call it Tangerine Dream Google it!! Or Cush.
Some can you to hyper.Some to tired.
Some help you eat and make you hungry.
Some can help with headache but help anothers headache.
Just like medication from a Dr. They all work different on different people.
Like you Im so tired of them killing me while helping the pain.
Home Made CBD cream has been a miracle for me. Fibromyalgia, PTSD, Arthritis,CFS, and more.TBI(why my writing/spelling is bad.)
Ty for what you said. Verry well said. God Bless you
According to researchers from University of Massachusetts, cannabis-related poison control calls involving the commonwealth's children and teenagers doubled after medical marijuana became legal in Massachusetts.

The researchers reviewed the data of Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention at Boston Children's Hospital from 2009 through 2016, four years before and four years after medical marijuana was legalized.

It turned out that calls for single-substance cannabis exposure increased 140%, nearly 80% of the calls came from healthcare facilities. Over a quarter of the cases were unintentional, with 19.4% of calls involving children from infancy through age 4.

However, the proportion of teens using marijuana is about the same, which means teens may not be aware of the potentially potent effects of edibles and concentrated extracts.

It is suggested to strengthen regulations to prevent unintentional exposure among young children and teens, with particular attention to edible cannabis products and concentrated extracts.
Indica is the best for pain, Sativa actually makes pain feel worse, I don’t know if the pain gets worse or it’s perceived to feel worse. I have experienced pain in many different forms for different health problems. I found vaping for me gets best results than edibles , lotions ,etc. I have gotten best results from CBD when it contains a little THC and other cannabinoids. The problem though with CBD is that it because legal before proper research from FDA was preformed, as is done with other drugs. So now there is no government regulation of quality, manufacturing or anything in production and sale of CBD products, causing a flood of CBD products manufactured around the world. The charge is expensive as CBD’s of high quality which initially came to market in states where marijuana was legalized but a majority of the products sold at convenience stores or online are junk and with no FDA regulation, it’s up to you to do your research. The pot stores are your best bet as all there products are checked and overseen by state regulations. This does not assure the level of quality of canabioids being sold is a proper dosage to help with medical conditions.
can you get high from cbd? to my knowledge it is simply pressed oil from industrial hemp. but ive seen people mentioned getting high from it.
Most of people answering do not have correct information about NSAID and Tylenol. Regular use of Tylenol can and has destroyed the livers. Leaving only a transplant for treatment. That's why they were made to lower maximum dosage. NSAIDs also is very hard on your liver. Every drug you take goes through your liver. It's like your bodies filter. However many drugs are eliminated through your urine. That's how it effect your kidneys. When they don't work correctly you can't eliminate the drug. Therefore the drug increases with each dose in the body because it's not eliminated. Now weed, pot whatever you call it was used for tuberculosis patients when they were sent to asylums for treatment. The ones that used it had a higher success rate of recovery because they would eat and were stronger to fight the illness. People with muscle problems would use it and within 30seconds the muscles start relaxing. It works for anxiety disorder and depression. There are strains that works on many different types of pain. It works on many many many illnesses. But you get those who have never used it saying it don't work and on and on. The pharmaceutical companies are the ones fighting this. They can't make it a pill because they can't pull out all the different substances within the different strains. Many people would not need their opiates or they would be greatly reduced. Psych meds would decrease. And so on. The pharmaceutical companies pay big bucks to try to keep it from being leagalized. And as far as getting high you can still function quite well. I would greatly drive with someone who smoked over a drunk driver. Those that aren't motivated smoking wouldn't be motivated anyway. A study was done on a drivers response time, who had smoked, to different situations and there was no delay or it was very minimal on their response time. It is not a gait way drug. Those people would turn into junkies anyway. The government years ago wanted a study done on pot to prove it was bad for people Before the depression. When it came back with many many many benefits and they couldn't find much negativity with usage, the government order that it could never be studied again. So the movie  propaganda refer madness was made. Those that are really messed up with smoking pot are also high on something else. The pharmaceutical companies would lose millions and the drug trafficking would be gone concerning pot. The states would make good money to fix roads and bridges and so on. We don't need all the chemicals in pills that are needing another pill to stop ill effects from first pill. Every pill you take potentially causes harm soom where else in your body.  There's a web site that tells you what strains are good for what problems you have. You do not hallucinate smoking pot. But yet they say it. Talk to people who smoke for medical or recreational. No different than a drink at the end of the day to relax.
Some people find it hard to pee after getting high and that causes UTIs. Is that true? That's what I learned from a TV series.
Well said, thank you.

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Bone Mets
Drop Mic! I'll have to share this with some of my peeps. I was on pain meds  for 10 years, including high doses of fentanyl. It got bad. I'm on disability now. Taking those meds actually caused me to over do it so therefore injuring myself severely over time. The meds began having a rebound effect and became pain inducing. I've spent the last few years 'detoxing' which included max doses of Tylenol & Ibuprofen AND medical MJ. I had some type of allergic reaction to a bug bite and ended up in the hospital for three days because my liver is shot from OTC meds. My enzymes have always been normal till now. Gotta see a specialist tomorrow... with my vape pen and a good hybrid fully-loaded cartridge! THC & CBD has been the one true medicine hero in my story. I am a lifetime smoker. I've NEVER heard of ANYONE overdose...over-do...sure. But weed checks you or you fall asleep. Now I order the strength, strain and use it for symptoms I experience which vary i.e. for pain , sleep, depression, anxiety, tremors, or even something tailored to treat 3 or more symptoms at the same time. I even grew my own Blue Dream organic, indoors in Alaska. It wad a great Christmas experience. I learned a lot and have researched this medicine and have complete faith that MJ is here to stay!
Didn't mean to type Christmas in my comment. Have no clue how it snuck in. LoL. Aye aye aye!
I have Multiple Sclerosis. Médical Marijuana has replaced narcotic pain medicines for me. It has also replaced anxiety meds for me. My chronic, from back injuries, is now managed with Médical Marijuana. It also adresses nausea, PTSD from an attack I survived, by a serial rapist and shooter. Thank you Oklahoma for making It légal. All my docs agréé. Médical Marijuana is a miracle for me.
I feel happy for you Patsy. Hope all can have benefits from medical marijuana.

Alright, here it goes.....

There are too many active ingredients in Marijuana that I could list here.  CBD must have THC (this is what most people get high from) in order to activate the benefits.  Now, I know you are probably think that it is out if the question.  Most of us cannot function stoned everyday, and that sorta defeats the purpose.  I myself cannot tolerate the side effects from THC.  I am one of the few people I know that will become depressed, pessimistic, paranoid and feel as if i’m some sort of zombie all day unable to remember one sentence to the next.  

I live in Washington State and happen to have a boyfriend that is a consultant to large companies that have been grated permits to grow and distribute for states all over.  My partner also has a rare neurological disorder that is progressive and terribly debilitating and painful.  With no cure in sight and limited options that are pretty extreme like brain surgery, electroconvulsive therapy and even botox, we have searched high and low for the best treatment to ease pain symptoms so he may have some quality of life.

Everyone is different.  People have different kinds of pain and symptoms.  The wonderful gift of cannabis and all the active medicinals are still being Big Pharm..  They will find the cheapest ways produce, market and make a lot of money selling it as they already are.

So this has been my experience trying different ways to get relief without the side effects turning me into a basket case.

My first experience was carpal tunnel syndrome that got so bad, I could no longer feel my fingers except pain.  I would wake up in the night or morning with severe neurological pain that radiated into my shoulders.  The pain was excruciating and nothing gave me relief including opiates my doctor prescribed.  Nothing helped.  Ice packs, jumping around my room or just crying helped me.  One morning while I was in tears, my boyfriend suggested a puff from a hash pen.  I would have tried anything at that time, so I went ahead and took a puff.

Before blowing out the vapor, I could instantly feel as if all sensations I lost travel up my hand into my arm.  I never thought that was possible and my pain was gone instantly.  I couldn’t believe it.  My tears became tears of pure joy and it still amazes me when I think about it.

The side effects were a little much for me though and I had a hard time getting things done all day.  There was just too much THC in this strain (it was an indica strain).  

Every option at the time seemed too much for me so I only uses this in my worst pain until I had surgery to correct it.

Then I broke my back snowboarding in the lumbar l4-l5 and the muscle spasms. Hip pain amd leg pain nearly made me resort to opiate meds and thankfully I chose another option that was difficult but probably saved me from a terrible addiction and not a way of life  I wanted.  Again, I turned to a specific CBD topical therapy that catered to my pain.  It had specific tricombs  (sorry about the spelling) that were prepared a very specific way, at specific temperatures to give me pain relief with drowsiness and anxiety that I seem to get.  The topical gives nearly instant relief from leg cramping, hip flexor tightness and all that came with breaking my back.  It allowed me to exercise everyday, and slowly build up my core muscles I needed desperately to hold myself up without using my back.  I will also endorse basic yoga for saving my life as well as Cannabis for allowing me to push myself easier.

I am now completely pain free.  I stay active everyday by just moving.  No exercising.  Just staying in motion from the time I wake up till I collapse on my bed at night.

I cannot go on about this enough and I won’t.  I will say that the CBD you can buy at any Rite Aid or whatever is not an effective medicine.  My beat advice is going to a recreational store and asking the employees (better yet, a manager) everything you need to know about what mixture’s and applications will work without the effects.  Most people (myself included), want to enjoy their lives and not feel ‘high’.  That’s not good medicine.  The people that work with Marijuana everyday, have probably the most experience with what you really need and they always offer discounts for seniors and veterans, etc..  go slow with this process and dont eat a bunch of the delicious candies they offer and try to drive home.  Any doctor would start you on a medication slowly to see how you react so take it before you lay down to sleep, just in case but I guarantee that anyone in pain will significantly benefit from this wonderful Gift.  You just have to be open to it.

I will note that my grandfather and both grandmothers greatly benefited from CBD in different forms with Parkinson’s, Lung cancer and COPD until they all took their last breathe.  It was a beautiful thing.

Pain felt in lower back ànd radiating to  left hip or buttocks, left thigh  (not knee joint)