Study: Quality of Life in MMJ Patients

Stephen Andrews
05 Jun 2023

The use of medicinal marijuana has led to "significant improvements" in health-related quality of life for people with conditions like chronic pains and insomnia. Those effects are "largely sustained" over time, says a new study from the American Medical Association (AMA) that interviewed more than 3,000 Australian MMJ patients.

Researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology, University of Western Australia and Austin Hospital conducted a retrospective case series analysis that involved 3,148 medical cannabis patients in Australia for conditions to which MMJ is eligible. The study results were published in May in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Health Policy. 

Eight well-being indicators were measured in the study, and cannabis appeared helpful in most cases. Some patients reported adverse side effects but were "rarely serious."

Patients were asked to rate their wellness in eight categories, including general health, body pain, physical function, limitations to physical roles, mental health, limitations to emotional roles, social functioning, and vitality. The survey was sent to the patients every 45 days over two years, and they аnswered on a scale from 0 to 100 at different stages of treatment.

The study found that participants consuming medical marijuana reported average improvements of 6.6-18.31 points on the 100-point scale, depending on the category. 

The most common conditions for which marijuana was prescribed were non-cancer chronic pain (68.6 percent), cancer-related pain (6.0 percent), insomnia (4.8 percent), and anxiety (4.2 percent).

The dosings, consumption methods and cannabinoid content of marijuana products used by the patients varied significantly. Even so, the "estimated treatment effects were very similar."

"These findings suggest that medical cannabis treatment may be associated with improvements in health-related quality of life among patients with a range of health conditions," the researchers wrote. 

"This study suggests a favorable association between medical cannabis treatment and quality of life among patients with a diverse range of conditions," they say in the study conclusion. "However, clinical evidence for cannabinoid efficacy remains limited, and further high-quality trials are required." 

Many more studies have been coming in over the last few years that aim to measure the effectiveness of therapies among MMJ patients. 

A separate AMA study released earlier this year found that chronic pain patients who used medicinal cannabis for over a month saw significant reductions in prescribed opioids. 

One study from the University of Colorado has linked consistent cannabis use with improved cognition and reduced pain among cancer patients and those receiving chemotherapy. 

Stephen Andrews