Overdrive Podcast: What's Limiting Medical Marijuana Therapy in Rheumatology?


Benjamin Nowell, PhD, and Stuart Silverman, MD, FACP, FACR, discuss the recently published review of current literature regarding cannabis for rheumatic disease pain.

Benjamin Nowell, PhD, and Stuart Silverman, MD, FACP, FACR, discuss the recent publication of the article, “Cannabis for rheumatic disease pain: A review of current literature.” Investigators discovered that progress in understanding cannabis-based therapies for treating the pain associated with rheumatic disease is hindered due to a lack of standardization of clinical research and current barriers to conducting such research due to federal and state regulations. Nowell is the Director of Patient-Centered Research at CreakyJoints and principal investigator of the ArthritisPower Research Registry. Silverman is a rheumatologist and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA School of Medicine, as well as a faculty member of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative.

While over 90% of Americans support the legal use of medical marijuana, there are no cannabis-based medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. In the review, investigators found that while cannabinoids effectively decrease inflammation in cells and reduce both inflammation and pain in mice and rats, there are very few studies examining these effects in humans as it relates to rheumatology. Further, the clinical trials that have been conducted were generally limited by inconsistent methods and small sample sizes.

“Without this research, it is impossible to develop clinical guidelines for medicinal cannabis in the US, which is vital for patients a seeking the full range of treatment options to explore in partnership with their physicians. The best way to treat rheumatic conditions is through the use of FDA-approved medications, which are backed by evidence demonstrating their effectiveness and safety profile,” stated Nowell in CreakyJoint’s press release.

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