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Medical Cannabis patients who feel 'high' report greater symptom relief but increased negative side effects

20 JUN, 2023

In a new study titled, “Understanding Feeling ‘High’ and Its Role in Medical Cannabis Patient Outcomes,” published in the journal, Frontiers in Pharmacology, researchers at The University of New Mexico, in collaboration with Releaf App™ found that patients who reported feeling “High” experienced 7.7% greater symptom relief and an increase in reporting of positive side effects such as “Relaxed” and “Peaceful.” However, these benefits must be weighed against a more than 20% increase in negative side effect reporting.

Senior author and Associate Professor of Psychology, Jacob Vigil, explained the motivation for the paper. “Feeling ‘high’ is poorly defined in the scientific literature, but is generally associated with both impairment and feelings of euphoria," said Vigil. "Typically, feeling ‘high’ is assumed to be the goal of recreational use, but a limitation to cannabis’ therapeutic potential. In this paper, we test the validity of this assumption and find that feeling ‘high’ may be an unavoidable component of using cannabis medicinally.”

In the study sample of almost 2,000 patients, who recorded more than 16,000 medical cannabis administration sessions using cannabis flower, the study found that 49% of participants reported feeling high. Feeling high was highly correlated with a variety of side effects. The most highly correlated positive side effects were “chill” and “happy,” while the most highly correlated negative side effects were “dry mouth” and “red eyes.” Conventional definitions of feeling high typically involve impairment and euphoria, which was supported by the study results – feeling high was statistically significantly associated with feeling clumsy, confused, dizzy, foggy, and paranoid, and well as effects like happy, grateful, great, and optimistic.

With respect to symptom relief, the study found strong positive correlations between feeling high and greater symptom relief, even after controlling for THC and CBD levels, dose, mode of consumption (pipe, joint, vaporizer) and starting symptom severity. This suggests that feeling high may be a fundamental component of the effective use of cannabis as medicine, rather than a tangential, negative effect to be avoided in clinical settings.


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