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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 May 2023 - 12 May 2023

Commentary/Perspective, Ethical/Legal, Psychology, Sex/Gender/Race, Social Aspects

Pharmacology/Drug Development


2023 May 08

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res


Using Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain: A Social-Ecological Framework.


Dekeseredy P, Brownstein H, Haggerty T, Sedney CL


Early studies suggest medical cannabis (MC) has the potential to benefit people who suffer from chronic pain by offering a less addictive alternative to opioids; however, most investigators agree more research is indicated. Today, in 2023, cannabis remains a Schedule I drug and is an illegal substance in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Despite this designation, as of February 2022, 37 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia allowed using cannabis products to treat certain painful medical conditions. The contradictory status of federal and state legislation regarding cannabis use has resulted in delays and restrictions on relevant research. As a result, an inadequate foundation of knowledge exists needed to inform policy, program, and practice decisions concerning MC to treat pain. Implementing and controlling access to MC is influenced by overlapping individual, interpersonal, community, and organizational influences that all fall under the umbrella of federal and state policies. Increasingly, the legalization and expanded access to MC necessitates the integration of evidence, policy, and social-ecological reality. To adequately delineate these complex factors to anticipate and plan future interventions at multiple levels, we propose a social-ecological framework (SEF) for using MC to treat pain. This SEF assumes the transactional relationship between the individual and the environment and that no single factor can predict behavior or health outcomes. Our framework illustrates five dynamic levels of analysis that interact between dimensions. Key elements and intersections are discussed at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and policy levels.