Although marijuana and other cannabinoids are regarded as therapeutic and possess painkilling properties for rheumatic diseases, new analysis suggests that not enough research has gone into the subject to reach a sufficient scientific conclusion. A review from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal stated that there is "scant scientific evidence" to suggest that marijuana is beneficial to those suffering from diseases related to bones and joints, adding that there is yet to be a controlled study that "examined herbal cannabis in the rheumatology patient population".
Throughout their research, the team, led by Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, an associate professor at the McGill University Health Centre, identified only four studies relating to the subject since the 1940s, all of which were less than eight weeks long. One of these studies, which focused on patients with osteoarthritis, was ended prematurely as the active drug did not differ from the placebo, whereas the other three had a "high risk" of bias.
Of the research published in Arthritis Care & Research, Fitzcharles said: "In the context that rheumatic diseases, including osteoarthritis, are very common, these studies provide limited information, and we cannot draw any conclusions regarding efficacy or side effects − especially long-term side effects − associated with cannabinoid therapy. Therefore, based on current scientific study, rheumatologists cannot recommend the use of cannabinoids in general, and medical marijuana in particular, as a therapeutic option for rheumatology patients.
"The scientific community must call for further urgent research to determine the true role of cannabinoids in rheumatic conditions."