Cannabis and Chronic Pain: A New Frontier?

Published on: 
Cannabis Patient Care, March/April 2021, Volume 2, Issue 1
Pages: 6

Welcome to the second edition of Cannabis Patient Care! We are excited to be bringing you four digital editions this year. This issue is focused on chronic pain.

Welcome to the second edition of Cannabis Patient Care! We are excited to be bringing you four digital editions this year. This issue is focused on chronic pain.

First, we gain valuable insights from Dr. Julia Hildebrand, Dr. Peter Blecher, Starseed Medicinal, Medical Cannabis Canada, and WeedMD in which they share their experiences with medical cannabis patients in Canada, both specifically related to chronic pain and medical cannabis use for other reasons. It’s interesting to note that even though cannabis is fully legalized in Canada, many patients still opt in to be registered on the medical side.

Our patient perspective comes from Brendan McKernan and his father Richard, who both had personal experience with medical cannabis and chronic pain that led to some amazing breakthroughs. The McKernan family has worked in the life sciences field for decades, with Richard forming several companies over the years and his sons following suit. When Richard was diagnosed with latestage cancer, the family turned to science to see what could be done to ease his pain. The answer came from cannabis and learning about the endocannabinoid system and how various tinctures and cannabinoids interact with it. This family’s story of personal strife leading to forming a company and medical cannabis conference that can help others is truly inspiring.

Eloise Theisen, a geriatric nurse practitioner and current president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, witnessed patients suffering firsthand during her early work as an oncology nurse. As her patients started expressing more interest in medical cannabis to alleviate the pain associated with their cancer treatments, Theisen decided to dive in and learn as much as she could to help advise her patients. Now, as a nurse practitioner, Theisen has her own practice, advises patients on Leaf411, and is passionate about seeing other healthcare professionals learn more about this medicine.

On the research side, we spoke with Kevin Boehnke, PhD, a research investigator at the Chronic Pain Institute Research Center in the anesthesiology department at the University of Michigan. Boehnke discussed his research efforts to address questions such as what health conditions are patients using cannabis for, which dosage formats are they using, and does it help chronic pain. Boehnke’s previous research was based on cross-sectional studies, but he recently received funding from the NIH to better understand how CBD and THC interact with different types of chronic pain as well as with sleep in the context of chronic pain. Boehnke's goal in this new study is to figure out how CBD and THC act together or separate so that they can then translate that information back to the patient.

Stanley Atkins II is a veteran patient turned advocate, out of necessity, and here he shares his incredible journey to help reform cannabis policies in his home state of Georgia. Atkins is another great example of how personal experience with medical cannabis shaped his future and led him down a road to help others gain the access to this medicine that he so desperately needed.

Finally, we hear directly from a patient caregiver—Jessica Mandile—on how medical cannabis turned her husband’s quality of life around dramatically.

As our cover implies, the question we’re posing in this issue is if medical cannabis is a new frontier in alternative medicine. For centuries, patients have sought alternative options when faced with a condition that traditional medicine did not alleviate. Chronic pain is one of the most common ailments people face, often arising as a side effect from other illnesses—as we can see in this issue with several stories of patients dealing with cancer and chemotherapy. With medical cannabis becoming more mainstream, now is the time to really look into this as an alternative option. It’s not a cure-all, but if medical cannabis has the potential to help people with specific problems—such as chronic pain—that is something the medical community and general public should be aware of.


On April 27th, we will be hosting a 90-minute e-symposium featuring a presentation from Eloise Theisen and a patient-focused panel discussion with Stanley Atkins II, Brendan McKernan, and Otha Smith III. Please join us for this free event and pose your questions directly to the people involved in the field and experiencing the benefits of medical cannabis:

Enjoy this issue and I hope to see you on April 27th!

Megan L'Heureux

Group Editorial Director