A large study on the effects of medicinal cannabis has shown that cannabis users report greater health satisfaction, improved sleep, lower average pain severity, lower anxiety, and lower depression -- all adding up to a significant reduction in hospital visits when compared with a control group. The research involved 1,276 patients, making it the largest of its kind.
The study was conducted under the guidance of Ryan Vandrey, an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and executed by Realm of Caring (RoC), a non-profit organization co-founded by parents in 2013 to support families who were out of medical options. RoC has since grown to serve more than 65,000 clients worldwide, with free programs and services to guide individuals on their journey with cannabinoid therapies.
One of the organization’s founders is Paige Figi, whose daughter Charlotte was the subject of a well-known 2013 CNN documentary titled “Weed.”
“This particular [inquiry] has been a two-year-plus study,” said Realm of Caring CEO Dr. Jonathan Hoggard in an interview with Green Flower. “What makes it very unique is that we have an almost identical cohort of cannabis users and non-cannabis users. We’re able to, really clearly, across similar demographics, track the efficacy of people who use CBD or cannabis products and those who do not.”
Dr. Hoggard pointed out that this was an “observational longitudinal study,” meaning the subjects are self-reporting their experiences using cannabis over a period of time. The process also included what he calls “validated measures,” which are a way to clinically confirm the findings of these self-reporting surveys. This makes the results much more viable and effective as research data.
“We have a control group of people who started the research survey not having used cannabis, then they start using cannabis over time,” he said. “We were able to follow the effects across 17 different health outcomes. These are everything from depression, to anxiety, to overall satisfaction with health, epilepsy, etc.”
Dr. Hoggard went on to say that overall, patients who used cannabis reported better outcomes compared to the non-cannabis control group, which ties into perhaps one of the most important findings of this study. “Cannabis users reduce hospital visits by 46 percent [and] ER visits are reduced by 39 percent.”
One of the benefits involving a widespread study of this nature is that it could go a long way to sway some differing opinions about the efficacy of cannabis as medicine. “The health industry is a large industry and if they simply see the cost-benefit analysis of people who use cannabis versus those who do not, I think this alone will sway them,” said Dr. Hoggard.
In light of this newfound evidence, Dr. Hoggard feels the one main takeaway is that much more research is needed. “What we are starting to discover [about] the incredible benefits of this plant is exciting, but we still have a long way to go in research,” he said. “Companies and organizations like Realm of Caring need to be around to really drive, and make sure the public is aware of what the benefits are and also what the potential drawbacks are.”
The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.