Cannabinoid Therapy: Attitudes and Experiences of People With Chronic Pain


Clinical trials of cannabinoids for chronic pain have mixed and often inconclusive results. In contrast, many prospective observational studies show analgesic effects of cannabinoids. This survey study aimed to examine the experiences/attitudes of individuals with chronic pain who are currently taking, have previously taken, or never taken cannabinoids for chronic pain to inform future research.


This study is based on a cross-sectional, web-based survey of individuals with self-reported chronic pain. Participants were invited to participate via an email that was distributed to the listservs of patient advocacy groups and foundations that engage individuals with chronic pain.


Of the 969 respondents, 444(46%) respondents reported currently taking, 213(22%) previously taking, and 312(32%) never taking cannabinoids for pain. Participants reported using cannabinoids to treat a wide variety of chronic pain conditions. Those currently taking cannabinoids (vs. previously) more frequently reported: (1) large improvements from cannabinoids in all pain types, including particularly difficult to treat chronic overlapping pain conditions (e.g., pelvic pain), (2) improvements in comorbid symptoms (e.g., sleep), and (3) lower interference from side effects. Those currently taking cannabinoids reported more frequent and satisfied communication with clinicians regarding cannabinoid use. Those never taking cannabinoids reported lack of suggestion/approval of a clinician (40%), illegality (25%) and lack of FDA regulation (19%) as reasons for never trying cannabinoids.

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