Studies on long-term marijuana use vs. long-term use of painkillers?

I follow a couple of other boards, one of which in particular doesn’t hold up to the standards of debate we have here. After the SCOTUS decision on medical marijuana was handed down, a thread was opened and several posters made the bald assertion that it’s possible to exactly replicate the effects of marijuana using other prescription drugs.

There have also been assertions by both sides that marijuana A) Is much better for you, you idiot, or B) Is much worse for you, you clod, than prescription painkillers.

It will be useless to ask them for cites, and frankly, I don’t have a dog in the fight, so please don’t think I’m mining the SDMB for cites to slap people down. They just made me curious, and I’m wondering if anyone is aware of any empirical information that speaks to either of these topics.


I’m no expert on the topic but went to a lecture during my internship. My understanding is that MedMJ is indicated for chronic nausea and as an appetite stimulant. I don’t recall discussion of it’s use as a pain reliever (though relief of psychic pain seems possible). The take home message was that in population-based studies, MedMJ performed no better, and in some cases worse than standard treatments for nausea and poor appetite. The lecturer also said that patients lacking prior (recreational) experience with MJ are unlikely to tolerate its “side-effects.”

FTR, I’m a proponent of MedMJ and believe that you treat the individual; some patients respond better to a given therapy.

Thanks! I’m really unfamiliar with its use, aside from seeing a few Montel Williams episodes that are more or less pro-MJ propaganda. Any information is helpful.

No cite, but I’ve read that Federal law prohibits research on marijuana with very narrow exception, and so you wouldn’t expect to find (m)any proper studies for that reason.

Research into the opiates is said to be less restricted.

Not too much research on the smokable varieties but THC (the main active ingredient in cannabis)is available legally with a prescription and the subject of many clinical trials. Try searching for clinical trials on PubMed using thc or cannabis as the search term.

This is an odd Catch-22 in US law. The anti side states that no clinical trials have shown any medical value. However, since the stuff is illegal, you cannot legally get any for clinical testing. The feds actually grow a small supply for use by a handful of patients who have sued for the right to a safe supply of it. This supply is not available for research. Why? Circle back to “no clinical trials have…”

I question the assertion that prescription medications can replicate the effects of cannabis. For one thing, the effects are quite subjective, as this is predominantly a psycho-active drug. It may be that there are now drugs that can lower occular pressure in the same way that medical mj does for glaucoma, but the subjective effects are extrememly hard to identify, and quantify. I would be surprised if any research has been done into that aspect of any prescription drugs. What might be interesting - but not rigorous enough to be called research - would be to have people chime in with anecdotes of their experience with ANY prescription drug(s) that have caused them to feel the way that marijuana does. I’ll be waiting. xo C.



I don’t know what these guys are smoking :smiley:

Of note, THC is legally distributed with a prescription in the USA. The tradename is


Cannabinoids have their own receptors. For other drugs to have the exact same effects, they’d have to bind to those receptors.


Cannabinoid Receptors

Thanks, guys. This has been enlightening.

…although the question hasn’t been answered, yet.

To do that, someone would have to do the research.
Who knows, maybe the Brits or the Canadians are looking into it. It’s not going to happen in te US.

It’s hard to say about long-term use, hard to say what whole plant extracts may offer compared with pure THC, but it is clear that THC is not as effective an analgesic as narcotics (in some cases subjects report increased pain).


Bolding mine

I think the nearest answer to a correct one is going to be that for some people Cannabis will work very well, and they’ll choose it in preference over other therapies, for some it will not relieve any of the symptoms it’s supposed to and for yet others it will work up to a point, but they will prefer their standard therapies.

Not everyone reacts to drugs in the same way, not everyone tolerates side effects in the same way and not everyone thinks being stoned is a negative side effect!

If some people find it works for them, and they tolerate the side effects better than their standard medication, well, they should use it. People who don’t get benefit from it, or don’t like the way it makes them feel, well they can use something else.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be an all-or-nothing, black or white answer.