New reviews into pain management and PTSD were commissioned by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Though the findings weren’t what proponents for cannabis really wanted to hear, it has to be remembered that they are among a very small bank of studies, as it remains difficult to test marijuana’s safety and efficacy due to its federal regulation as a Schedule I drug.
The Department of Veteran Affairs denied all requests for the researchers on the projects to be interviewed.
The two studies did find some positive results with easing neuropathic pain, however, it showed little help for other pains or for PTSD, a condition that many veterans face post combat. Dr. Sachin Patel from the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville wrote his own commentary to join the reviews’ conclusions and stated that the findings on neuropathy, “fit generally well with what we know.”
Well over half of the U.S.A. has medical marijuana laws of one kind or another, many with a wide range of medical conditions under their umbrellas. Other states are waiting to implement new laws and medicinal cannabis is becoming a norm in our country. Studies like the ones recently conducted, however, are controversial. Pain is one of the most pressing conditions for one to obtain medical access to the plant.
On the other hand, other research has shown more positive results. The National Academy of Sciences found earlier this year, “that marijuana is effective at treating chronic pain, calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and easing nausea from chemotherapy,” according to reporting by the Chicago Tribune.
At this stage of the game, the VA is not going to prescribe medical marijuana, though they did acknowledge the potential that pot is, “beginning to be helpful,” in a comment from David Shulkin of the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Twenty-seven studies were poured over by the new study’s researchers into chronic nerve pain. They found “low strength” evidence for the plant’s efficacy, and found too little research to support the use of cannabis for chronic pain at this point. As long as cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, research into its uses and benefits are beyond limited.
The research also showed very low risk and few side effects, including short term cognitive impairment and driving impairment. They also admitted that the research did not efficiently cover aging populations or those who use pot chronically.
The second review revolving around PTSD found that there was too few studies and that the ones that had been conducted were potentially biased.
At this point there are definitely not enough studies out there to come to any conclusions, but, “several ongoing studies may soon provide important results,” according to the study authors.