According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the leading cause of disability in the U.S. A 2006 report estimated that 46 million Americans—nearly 1 in 5 adults—live with chronic joint pain and arthritis. The use of cannabis as a treatment for musculoskeletal pain in western medicine dates to the 1700s14. Modern research confirms that cannabis and related therapies can relieve the pain associated with arthritis and the other rheumatic and degenerative hip, joint, and connective tissue disorders. Not only is cannabis an effective pain reliever and anti-inflammatory in its own right, it also has the potential to enhance the efficacy of opiate painkillers, allowing for better pain relief at reduced dosages. In their 1999 meta-analysis of the data then available, the Institutes of Medicine specifically noted that the anti inflammatory properties of cannabinoids could have therapeutic application in preventing or reducing pain caused by swelling and inflammation (such as arthritis)10.

Research has shown that the powerful immune-modulation and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids may treat chronic inflammatory diseases directly151-154. Many patients and doctors report cannabis has proven an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and it is one of the recognized conditions for which many states permit medical use. Specifically, cannabis has a demonstrated ability to improve mobility and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation, and research suggests that individuals can reduce their use of potentially harmful Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) when using cannabis as an adjunct therapy154,155. 

One of the non-intoxicating psychoactive cannabinoid components of cannabis, i.e., cannabidol (CBD), has also been shown to have numerous medical applications as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agent, including as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis156,157. Research indicates that CBD suppresses the immune response in mice and rats that is responsible for a disease resembling arthritis, protecting them from severe damage to their joints and markedly improving their condition158-160.


Malfait, A. M. et al. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97, 9561–9566 (2000).