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Patients Who Use Medical Cannabis Report Being Happier and Healthier Than Those Who Don’t

A study comparing people using medical cannabis and hemp for a wide variety of health conditions with a control group of people with similar health concerns who were not using any cannabis products found cannabis users endure less pain, are more relaxed, and were significantly less likely to have recently gone to an emergency room or been admitted to the hospital.

The study involved ongoing surveys of 1,276 patients registered with Realm of Caring, a nonprofit organization that supports research into the use of both medical marijuana and hemp products without THC. The patients included 808 cannabis users, most of whom were using hemp products, and 468 patients who were not yet using cannabis. The participants were queried every three months between April 2016 and February 2018 about their physical and mental health, use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, and whether they had been to the ER or admitted to the hospital within the past month. By every measure, cannabis users ranked healthier, mentally and physically, than non-users.

The research who oversaw the study, Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said perhaps the strongest indication of the medical benefits of cannabis is that non-users who began using cannabis over the course of the study reported improved health and well being after they began. “People felt better when they started. That is a powerful signal,” he said.

More than half of cannabis users reported using products in which cannabidiol (CBD) was the primary chemical component. 

Vandrey said the illness people in the study suffer fell into three categories: neurological diseases such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, chronic pain including fibromyalgia and persistent back pain, and psychiatric conditions including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cannabis users reported significantly better quality of life, better satisfaction with their health, better sleep, less pain, less anxiety, and less depression as compared with non-using. They also reported using fewer prescription medications and were less likely to have visited an emergency room or been admitted to a hospital in the previous month.

“We had people say the prescription medication was controlling their illness but had terrible side effects, and they had fewer side effects with cannabis,” Vandrey said.

“This study shows clearly that cannabinoids have a very positive effect on health outcomes across the board among all age groups and demographics. This publication will be the first of many based on the detailed findings of this extensive data set.” said Jonathan Hoggard, PhD, CEO of Realm of Caring. “Perhaps the most dramatic finding in this study was that medicinal cannabis use was associated with 39 percent fewer ER visits and 46 percent fewer hospital admissions.”

The full study has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.