Marijuana's Role in Neuropathic Pain Treatment | cannabisMD

Marijuana’s Role in Neuropathic Pain Treatment

Marijuana's Role in Neuropathic Pain Treatment; National Institute of Health

National Institute of Health

Cannabinoids are a collection of over 100 chemicals that are derived from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of these chemicals and research has said it has anti inflammatory effects when induced on animal cells, without unwanted psychoactive side effects. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another one of these chemicals that gives off a psychotropic effect in animals brains. Endogenous cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are found in the endocannabinoid system and allow cannabinoids to bind and work in the body. Marijuana is the number one illicit drug of abuse worldwide and a major public health problem, especially in the younger population. The objective of this paper is to update and review the state of the science and treatments available for marijuana dependence based on a pre-meeting workshop that was presented at ISAM 2006.

Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.

Main Points

  • Cannabinoid system, a target for for marijuana dependence?
  • Synthetic cannabinoids, useful for cannabis addiction?
  • Conclusion

Cannabinoid system, a target for for marijuana dependence?

At the workshop, several papers were presented addressing the neurobiology and pharmacology of marijuana and treatment approaches, both psychotherapy and medications, for marijuana withdrawal. Medicolegal and ethical issues concerning marijuana medical use were also discussed. Concise summaries of these presentations are incorporated in this article, which is meant to be an updated review of the state of the science. Major advances have been made in understanding the underpinning of marijuana dependence and the role of the CNS cannabinoid system, which is a major area for targeting medications to treat marijuana withdrawal and dependence, as well as other addictions.

Synthetic cannabinoids, useful for cannabis addiction?

Behavioral therapies are efficacious for facilitating abstinence from marijuana. Nefazadone, Marinol, and buspirone are showing early positive signals for efficacy in ameliorating marijuana withdrawal symptoms. Effective psychotherapeutic approaches are available and promising medications studies need to be confirmed in outpatient trials. The next few years looking promising for translational research efforts to make treatment widely accessible to patients with marijuana dependence.


Understanding of the pharmacology of THC and the endocannabinoid system has advanced tremendously in the last decade or so. This in turn has led to new insights into the pathophysiology of dependence, possible medical applications of THC and other cannabinoid-like compounds, and how to design better treatments for our dependent patients. These include better understanding of the cognitive effects of long-term use, better characterization of the withdrawal syndrome, more effective behavioral treatment interventions, and the discovery of promising pharmacological treatments. As far as the cognitive effects, there is no clear consensus on whether long-term cannabis use does or does not produce residual cognitive deficits. If there are such effects, they are probably largely reversible and of little clinical relevance. However, it is clear that regular cannabis use, which produces daily acute intoxication with its related cognitive impairments, is associated with impaired functioning, by both objective measures such as education and income and by the subjective reports of the users themselves. In addition, regular cannabis use results in a clear danger to society, increasing the risk of motor vehicle accidents and probably increasing the number of accidents and other types of negative events in the workplace. Further research should examine the impact of chronic, long-term cannabis use on raising children and on real-world job performance.

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