A new article in the journal Arthritis Care & Research recommends doctors and healthcare providers discourage use of marijuana for treating rheumatic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia.
Medical marijuana is often used to self-treat the severe pain associated with rheumatic conditions, but the study authors argue the treatment has dosing, administration, and efficacy issues. For example, levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which provides the pain relief and psychoactive effects in marijuana, can vary between plants by up to 33 percent, and absorption rates can vary between 2 and 56 percent.
"With the public outcry for herbal cannabis therapy, governments around the world are considering its legalization for medicinal use," lead investigator Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, a researcher and rheumatologist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Research Institute of the MUHC in Quebec, Canada, was quoted as saying. "Physicians caring for patients who are self-medicating with marijuana need to understand the health implications of using this drug. Our study aims to provide health care professionals with that medical evidence related to medical marijuana use in patients with rheumatic conditions."