“The medical use of cannabis is an issue of major public health importance,” the authors of the study wrote. “A lack of data on the safety and efficacy of cannabis is a major barrier to physicians’ involvement.
The study looked at 216 daily medicinal cannabis patients across Canada with non-cancer pain using on average of 2.5 grams of cannabis, with a dose of 12.5 per cent THC, and compared them to a similarly sized group of chronic pain sufferers who did not use cannabis.
After a year, researchers found cannabis patients reported a reduction in pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, compared to the group that did not use the drug.
The paper noted this study was, to the researchers’ knowledge, the first cohort study ever conducted on the long term safety of medical cannabis use.
Additionally, the study looked at the long-term health effects of cannabis use on the group and showed no significant adverse changes in users’ mental function, pulmonary function, or blood work after a year of daily cannabis consumption, typically via inhalation or vaporization.
While cannabis users did report “mild to moderate” risk of cough, dizziness and paranoia, these were classified as “non-serious adverse events.”
“These findings, while not the primary outcomes of the study, are nevertheless important in considering the overall risk-benefit ratio of medical use of cannabis,” the authors stated. “Quality-controlled herbal cannabis, when used by cannabis-experienced patients as part of a monitored treatment program over one year, appears to have a reasonable safety profile.”