Study: Marijuana provides pain relief

Smoking pot can soothe tingling or burning pain — but you don't need to get high to find relief.

Those are preliminary findings of an $8.7 million California study, the first major research conducted on the effects of marijuana in two decades.

Researchers concluded that marijuana can provide relief for neuropathic pain caused by injuries, infections, diabetes, strokes and other medical conditions affecting the nervous system.

The studies, conducted since 2000 by the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, also found that smoking pot offers at least short-term relief for muscle spasms.

The findings, released Wednesday in a report to the Legislature, are sure to drive debate over public policy governing California's burgeoning medical marijuana market.

But while the research endorsed medical benefits of marijuana, it was anything but an endorsement for getting stoned.

In fact, a clinical trial for 38 patients who smoked marijuana for pain from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and other conditions found higher doses were not more effective than lower doses in relieving pain.

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