Sexist Cannabis: Marijuana relieves pain for men, not women – study

© Alessandro Bianchi
Women don’t experience the same pain relief from Marijuana as men, a new study stipulates.

Animal studies have previously indicated that males and females may feel the effects of marijuana in different ways, and now the first study into the differing pain-relief the drug has on human male and female recreational smokers, has found that men do, in fact, receive greater relief than women. 

The effects of marijuana are driven by two main compounds: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

The 42 participants (21 male and 21 female) were required to smoke either active marijuana, that contained THC, or a placebo form of the drug, which had no THC.

Immediately after, participants were asked to take part in a pain response test in which they submerged their hand into cold water (around 4 degrees Celsius) until they could no longer withstand the pain.

Researches from the Columbia University Medical Center found that men who smoked the active marijuana “experienced significant reduction in pain sensitivity” in comparison to the men who smoked the placebo.

However, women who smoked the active marijuana experienced “no significant decrease in pain sensitivity” in comparison to the women who smoked the placebo.

"These results indicate that in cannabis smokers, men exhibit greater cannabis-induced analgesia relative to women.

As such, sex-dependent differences in cannabis's analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief," said the co-authors of the study which was published in the journal ‘Drug and Alcohol Dependence’.

As of June 2015, marijuana is legal for medical use in 25 states plus Washington D.C. Medicinal marijuana (or cannabis) can be prescribed for a number of issues like pain, nausea, vomiting and to increase appetite.

This new insight into the drug’s effects highlights the need for both male and female clinical trials when determining the efficacy of marijuana use.