Barth Wilsey, MD, Thomas D. Marcotte, PhD, Associate Professor, Reena Deutsch, PhD, Statistician, Ben Gouaux,Research Associate, Staci Sakai, Research Associate, and Haylee Donaghe, Research Associate
We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the analgesic efficacy of vaporized cannabis in subjects, the majority of whom were experiencing neuropathic pain despite traditional treatment. Thirty-nine patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain underwent a standardized procedure for inhaling either medium dose (3.53%), low dose (1.29%), or placebo cannabis with the primary outcome being VAS pain intensity. Psychoactive side-effects, and neuropsychological performance were also evaluated. Mixed effects regression models demonstrated an analgesic response to vaporized cannabis. There was no significant difference between the two active dose groups’ results (p>0.7). The number needed to treat (NNT) to achieve 30% pain reduction was 3.2 for placebo vs. low dose, 2.9 for placebo vs. medium dose, and 25 for medium vs. low dose. As these NNT are comparable to those of traditional neuropathic pain medications, cannabis has analgesic efficacy with the low dose being, for all intents and purposes, as effective a pain reliever as the medium dose. Psychoactive effects were minimal and well-tolerated, and neuropsychological effects were of limited duration and readily reversible within 1–2 hours. Vaporized cannabis, even at low doses, may present an effective option for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain.