CBD Addictive

Health Blog


Why Recommending Cannabis for Pain Can Be Confusing

None of the alleged benefits of consuming medical cannabis get talked about as frequently as pain relief. Indeed, statistical data shows year after year that most people who use medical cannabis do so to manage pain. But there is a cautionary tale here. From the medical provider’s perspective, recommending cannabis for pain can create unnecessary confusion.

I ran into such confusion myself while conducting research on cannabis consumption. I landed on a page on the Arthritis Foundation website after running a standard Google query on the term ‘cannabis and pain’. Yet as I read the article, I realized there was barely a mention of marijuana or THC. The piece was all about CBD.

Hemp, Marijuana, and Cannabis

When the Arthritis Foundation speaks of cannabis as a pain treatment, it is referring specifically to CBD products and medicines. But when your average medical cannabis user discusses the same topic, he is almost always referring to marijuana or THC. See the confusion?

CBD is the most predominant cannabinoid in hemp. THC is the most predominant cannabinoid in marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana are types of cannabis plants. So even though patient discussions of medical cannabis might focus exclusively on marijuana and THC, discussions within the medical community are likely to include hemp and CBD.

This could present a problem should an individual or entity within the medical community publicly recommend cannabis as a pain treatment without specifying either CBD or THC. It is clear the Arthritis Foundation has a favorable view of CBD. Its view of THC is not so clear. I have to assume it’s unfavorable, given the fact that THC doesn’t get much attention on their site.

Medical Marijuana and Pain

This is not just a matter of semantics. Utah Marijuana website says chronic pain is the most cited condition among medical cannabis patients in Utah. It is the same story in every state with legalized medical cannabis. Pain is the big one. But are people being treated with marijuana/THC or hemp/CBD?

There is evidence suggesting both therapies can work for patients. Some patients report better pain relief with THC while others prefer CBD. Any doctor making such a recommendation would have to be careful about which substance was being recommended. In addition, patients need to be careful about the products they purchase.

In its article on CBD and arthritis pain relief, the Arthritis Foundation briefly mentioned the possibility of purchasing CBD products with unreported THC. This could be a problem for a patient looking for pain relief without the psychoactive effects THC is known to induce.

The Legal Issue

Above and beyond the individual medications a person might take is the legal issue. More than three-dozen states have decriminalized medical marijuana so far. But the federal government has taken no such action. Marijuana remains on the Schedule I list of controlled substances, meaning it is illegal to cultivate, possess, and distribute nationwide.

A doctor recommending cannabis as a pain relief medication is fine if the recommendation is for CBD. But if the doctor is recommending THC, he is recommending an illegal substance. The only saving grace is that Washington has chosen to turn a blind eye in those states with active medical cannabis programs.

The long and short of it is that the entire medical cannabis landscape is not as cut and dried as it would seem. There is plenty of room for confusion among both patients and providers who do not understand the finer details. Recommending cannabis for pain clearly demonstrates just how confusing it can be. No doubt we need to find a way to clear things up.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Beau Alexander James: Beau, a mental health advocate, shares personal stories, coping strategies, and promotes mental health awareness and understanding.