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Cannabis reduces cancer pain levels by 30% in patients who do not respond to morphine or other medicines, according to reports published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
A cannabis-based spray, which is used like a mouth freshener, works by activating cannabinoid receptors that stop nerve signals being sent to the brain from the site of pain.
Researchers at Edinburgh University developed the spray using a THC extract that does not affect the mental state of patients in the way that normal cannabis does.
The researchers said their findings do not justify smoking cannabis as this could increase the risk of cancer.
Edinburgh University’s Professor Marie Fallon said: “These early results are very promising and demonstrate that cannabis-based medicines may deliver effective treatment for people with severe pain.
“Prescription of these drugs can be very useful in combating debilitating pain, but it is important to understand the difference between their medical and recreational use.”
Copyright Press Association 2009