International forskning

Thoughtfully Integrating Cannabis Products Into Chronic Pain Treatment

Kevin F Boehnke 1, Christopher L Wu 2 3, Daniel J Clauw 1

  • 1From the Anesthesiology Department, Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • 2Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine and Critical Care, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York.
  • 3Department of Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York.


Cannabis products (CPs) and cannabis-based medicines (CBMs) are becoming increasingly available and are commonly used for pain management. The growing societal acceptance of cannabis and liberalization of cannabis laws allows patients to access CPs with minimal clinical oversight. While there is mechanistic plausibility that CPs and CBMs may be useful for pain management, the clinical trial literature is limited and does not refute or support the use of CBMs for pain management. Complicating matters, a large and growing body of observational literature shows that many people use CPs for pain management and in place of other medications. However, products and dosing regimens in existing trials are not generalizable to the current cannabis market, making it difficult to compare and reconcile these 2 bodies of literature. Given this complexity, clinicians need clear, pragmatic guidance on how to appropriately educate and work with patients who are using CBMs for pain management. In this review, we narratively synthesize the evidence to enable a clear view of current landscape and provide pragmatic advice for clinicians to use when working with patients. This advice revolves around 3 principles: (1) maintaining the therapeutic alliance; (2) harm reduction and benefit maximization; and (3) pragmatism, principles of patient-centered care, and use of best clinical judgment in the face of uncertainty. Despite the lack of certainty CPs and chronic pain management use, we believe that following these principles can make most of the clinical opportunity presented by discussions around CPs and also enhance the likelihood of clinical benefit from CPs.