Is medical marijuana a myth in some cases? Using cannabis no better than placebo for treating pain, study shows

Marijuana appears to have the same pain-relieving effect as a placebo — or fake pill. However, researchers say media outlets continue to cover these medical trials about cannabis-based therapies positively, regardless of the outcomes.

The findings come from a review of 20 clinical studies which examined the pain-relieving benefits of using marijuana involving more than 1,500 participants. Although previous studies have claimed that cannabis may help patients manage chronic pain, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that those taking placebos experienced the same level of pain relief as those consuming active cannabinoid substances.

“We see that cannabis studies are often described in positive terms in the media regardless of their results,” says the study’s first author Filip Gedin, a postdoc researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, in a university release. “This is problematic and can influence expectations when it comes to the effects of cannabis therapy on pain. The greater the benefit a treatment is assumed to have, the more potential harms can be tolerated.”

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