Claims for the health benefits of medical cannabis are legion, including to treat chronic pain, a condition that affects up to one in five people. Chronic pain, or pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks and can either be the result of another condition or have no discernible source, can vary person to person, from mild to completely debilitating.

While more severe cases of chronic pain are often treated with prescribed opioids these treatments are often highly addictive and associated with many negative side effects, including death from accidental overdose. As a result, more patients and physicians are exploring the health benefits of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain.

Because cannabis is still illegal in many jurisdictions, scientific research on its benefits is not as prolific as for other pain relief drugs including many opioids. However, certain studies show significant promise.

For example, one 2016 study from the University of Michigan published in the Journal of Pain shows compelling data that found cannabis decreased side effects from other medication, improved quality of life and reduced the use of opioids on average by 64% for the 244 medical cannabis patients involved in the study.

For people living with chronic pain, consulting with your doctor about cannabis as a potential treatment is often the first step in how to get a medical marijuana prescription.