The bona fides of cannabis as a pain reliever are so well established that even the FDA has approved pharmaceutical CBD and THC for the treatment of chronic pain associated with AIDS and chemotherapy. In states with legal medical marijuana, doctors recommend weed for pain of every stripe and hue: arthritis, Crohn’s, disease pancreatitis, migraine, heartburn, psoriasis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and on, and on. Check out French Toast’s entire Rx section for more info on all of that. But what about a bad back?
Let’s dig into what exactly this means.
In a paper published in the September issue of the journal Spine, researchers examined 5,000 responses to a national health study. It found that users of marijuana (or cocaine or heroin or meth) were more likely than the general public to have chronic lower back pain.
The pro-drug, achy-backed respondents were also more likely also to have a prescription for opioid painkillers. And here’s where the judginess creeps in.
The authors did not distinguish medical marijuana use from recreational—which seems like an enormous oversight if you’re at all concerned with causation (i.e. do illegal drugs mangle your lower back, or do people take illegal drugs as a means of self-medicating the pain). But the focus of the paper was not the etiology of back pain; instead it was a hypothesized connection between illegal drug use and the inclination to abuse (legally obtained) prescription medication:
The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of illicit drug use among U.S. adults with and without chronic low back pain (cLBP)—although addictive medications, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, are frequently prescribed to patients with cLBP, little is known about illicit drug use among Americans with cLBP.