Short-Term Medical Marijuana Therapy for Chronic Pain

Short-term marijuana use may be more beneficial than long-term use for patients with chronic pain.

The following article is part of conference coverage from the 2019 American Academy of Physician Assistants Annual Meeting (AAPA 2019) in Denver, Colorado. Clinical Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading physician assistants. Check back for the latest news from AAPA 2019.


DENVER – Patients with chronic pain (lasting >12 weeks) may derive greater benefit from short-term medical marijuana therapy vs prolonged treatment, according to research presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2019 annual meeting held May 18 to 22, 2019 in Denver, CO.

A team of investigators from the Physician Assistant Department at D’Youville College in Pennsylvania conducted a study to assess how medical marijuana may affect chronic pain in adults. Adults who used marijuana for chronic pain were invited to complete an 18-question survey distributed at pain management clinics in Western New York.

A total of 95 individuals (age range, 26-68 years; mean age, 47) were included in the analysis. The reported average length of marijuana use among participants was 7.7 months. Nearly 78% indicated that medical marijuana did not negatively affect their work performance; approximately 85% and 64% reported improvements in sleep and activities of daily living, respectively.

The investigators noted a positive correlation between the frequency of marijuana use per day and the difference in pain before and after using marijuana; a negative correlation was noted between length of marijuana use and pain difference. Of the cohort, 44% indicated that they experienced adverse events.

The authors wrote that the results suggested “that marijuana provides a more significant reduction in pain when used acutely rather than chronically.”

“More studies are needed to determine the therapeutic doses and safety profile of medicinal marijuana to establish its indication of use for chronic pain.”

For more coverage of AAPA 2019, click here.


Arshad H, Diagne K, Smith SN, Andreeff R, Edwards S. Patient outcomes with medicinal marijuana use. Presentation at: The American Academy of Physician Assistants Annual Meeting; May 18-22, 2019; Denver, CO. Poster 225.

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