Study says Medical Marijuana has Measurably Reduced Serious Pain among Minnesota Patients

In this June 17, 2015 file photo, an employee checks a plant at LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, Minn. Photo: AP/Jim Mone
In this June 17, 2015 file photo, an employee checks a plant at LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, Minn.

March 01, 2018 06:18 PM

Medical cannabis is working well for many Minnesota patients.

A recent Minnesota Department of Health study showed 42 percent of state residents taking medical cannabis for intractable pain reported pain reduction of at least 30 percent. 

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The state defines intractable pain as that for which the cause cannot be removed, and "the full range of pain management treatments appropriate for the patient have been used without adequate result or with intolerable side effects," according to a health department release. 

The health department said in the release Thursday the research focused on the first 2,245 people enrolled in the state's cannabis program for intractable pain. Of that segment, 2,174 patients bought medical marijuana and completed a self-evaluation prior to purchase during the observation period between Aug. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016.

Forty-two percent of patients who had recorded moderate to high pain scores at the beginning of the study reached a 30 percent reduction in pain scores, the release says. Twenty-two percent achieved and maintained that level of pain reduction over four months.

The release says a 30 percent reduction is frequently used in pain studies to represent "clinically meaningful improvement."

Further, the health department says, health care professionals taking care of those with intractable pain reported 41 percent of patients reached at least that 30 percent threshold or more. 

RELATED: Some Medical Marijuana Patients Scramble to Get Prescriptions

And the release says medical marijuana continues to be safe. None of those studied had life-threatening health effects requiring hospitalization during the study period, though 40 percent reported mild to moderate adverse side effects including dry mouth, drowsiness, fatigue or mental fogginess. 

Fifty-five patients reported side effects that interrupted daily activities, the release says.

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Michael Oakes

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