For people who depend on cannabis to live a high-quality life, it will come as no surprise that the most common reason Americans use this plant is to treat pain. A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan looked at cannabis use as a treatment for a long list of health issues to see exactly why people are turning to it for medicine, among other medical cannabis statistics. They found that almost two-thirds of patients are using cannabis for chronic pain.
Unfortunately, cannabis is still a Schedule I drug according to the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes it difficult to conduct nationwide studies on cannabis users. This study was designed to understand medical cannabis statistics in states where it’s legally allowed. They wanted to see if patients are using cannabis for evidence-based, medically approved reasons. Here’s what they found.
Medical Cannabis Statistics in the US
The researchers analyzed data from the 15 states that report the reasons for the patient’s medical cannabis use. They found that chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts beyond a few months, is the most common reason people choose to use medical cannabis. A large number of patients also report using medical cannabis to treat the stiffness associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea that comes with chemotherapy.
These findings are in line with a large number of Americans who suffer from chronic pain, which is estimated to be over 100 million people. They are also consistent with solid scientific evidence that cannabis works as an effective treatment for pain.
The researchers looked at symptoms and conditions that have been proven to be alleviated by cannabis based on a report by the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine. They found that 85 percent of the patients use cannabis for reasons that are supported by conclusive or substantial evidence.
Removing the Stigma of Cannabis
The researchers said that their findings don’t support the current status of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which classifies it has having no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. This scheduling puts it in the same category as heroin and cocaine, despite it being legal in 10 states and approved for medical use in 33 states.
The researchers argue that it’s time for the federal government to figure out how to properly regulate cannabis and incorporate it into medical practice in a safe way. Until these changes are put in place, there will continue to be no clinical guidelines for medical cannabis like there are for traditional prescription drugs.
What’s on the Horizon?
While the current federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance is frustrating, there is hope on the horizon. According to polls by the Pew Research Center, six out of 10 Americans want to fully legalize cannabis. That’s 62% of the US voting population. A whopping 84% believe that cannabis has health benefits and should be available for medical use.
With the rise in cannabis awareness, education, and support — and with positive medical cannabis statistics — we are hopefully on our way to living in a country where cannabis is available to everyone who needs it.
Ready to learn more about how you can access cannabis? Schedule an appointment for help becoming a registered Maryland Medical Cannabis Patient.