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Weekly Medicinal Cannabis Wrap - 22/7/2020

Medicinal Cannabis use by patients to treat spinal cord injuries

The world health organisation (WHO) estimates that between 40 and 80 people per 1 million people live with and suffer from some form of spinal cord injury (SCI). A recent study(1) completed across three academic research centres in the United States used an online survey to address utilisation of medicinal cannabis by people with varying degrees of spinal cord injuries.

People suffering from spinal cord injuries report the presence of both chronic pain and muscle spasms, with between 64% and 88% of patients reporting their SCI causes chronic pain which greatly decreases their quality of life. This study investigated 353 individuals that were characterised as either never used (NU), past user (PU) or current user (CU). Unsurprisingly, individuals who identified as NU were far less likely to believe that cannabis should be legalized and far more likely to endorse the risks of its use.

Current users and past users reported that cannabis had a positive impact on physical pain (65.30%), spasms (63.30%), insomnia (32.70%) and anxiety (24.00%). A total of 63.30% of participants reported cannabis provided “great relief” from symptoms, with participants also reporting that medicinal cannabis is more effective and has less side effects than conventional prescription medication.

1) Stillman, M., Capron, M., Mallow, M. et al. Utilization of medicinal cannabis for pain by individuals with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord Ser Cases 5, 66 (2019).

Cannabis use increasing among adults suffering from anxiety

In 2017, the American Psychological Association reported that one third of Americans suffer from feeling anxious or nervous, with these individuals reporting that the stressors of their anxiety are increasing over time. In the midst of a global pandemic, these stressors are at an all-time high.

A recently completed study (2) analysed data from the 2004-2017 national survey on drug use and health. This survey is an annual, nationally representative study of US individuals. Using data analysis methods, the frequency of participants that used cannabis in the last 30 days was analysed against their anxiety status among participants over the age of 18 (42,554)

The results from this study showed that adults suffering from anxiety were two to three times more likely to use cannabis. This cannabis use was more prevalent in US states where recreational cannabis was available compared to medical cannabis states or states with neither recreational nor medicinal cannabis available. Between 2004 and 2017 cannabis use increased among adults suffering from anxiety. This study only focused on the rate of use rather than the effects of use, so while clear conclusions can be made about the rate of use by adults suffering from anxiety in the US, it is unclear whether this use causes an improvement in condition or is just used as a coping mechanism to control the symptoms.

2) Weinberger AH, Zhu J, Levin J, Barrington-Trimis JL, Copeland J, Wyka K, Kim JH, Goodwin RD, Cannabis use among US adults with anxiety from 2008 to 2017: The role of state-level cannabis legalization, Drug and Alcohol Dependence (2020)

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