Understanding the evidence for medical cannabis and cannabis-based medicines for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain.


National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney, 22-32 King Street, Randwick, NSW, 2031, Australia. [Email]


The use of medical cannabis and cannabis-based medicines has received increasing interest in recent years; with a corresponding surge in the number of studies and reviews conducted in the field. Despite this growth in evidence, the findings and conclusions of these studies have been inconsistent. In this paper, we outline the current evidence for medical cannabis and cannabis-based medicines in the treatment and management of chronic non-cancer pain. We discuss limitations of the current evidence, including limitations of randomised control trials in the field, limits on generalisability of previous findings and common issues such as problems with measurements of dose and type of cannabinoids. We discuss future directions for medicinal cannabinoid research, including addressing limitations in trial design; developing frameworks to monitor for use disorder and other unintended outcomes; and considering endpoints other than 30% or 50% reductions in pain severity.


Cannabis,Cannabis-based medicines,Chronic pain,Medical cannabis,