Ethan B. Russo

Published in Pain Medicine

16 September 2019



This editorial is occasioned by the publication in Pain Medicine of two quite distinct articles [1,2] on the topical subject of cannabis and pain. As a point of departure, it is necessary to define terms. Cannabis sativa L. is a highly variable biochemical and morphological plant frequently termed “marijuana,” an obsolete and pejorative terminology for an ancient Old World species that has been utilized as an analgesic for millennia. The cannabis of commerce is frequently divided into two categories termed “sativa” and “indica” that purport to refer to differences that are neither taxonomically nor pharmacologically defensible. Similarly, one may refer to “strains” of cannabis, a label that is properly applied to bacteria or viruses, but not plants. Rather, what is scientifically relevant is the biochemical profile of a given cannabis variety, prompting the more appropriate terminology of chemical varieties or “chemovars.”


DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnz227



Russo EB. Cannabis and Pain. Pain Med. September 2019. doi:10.1093/pm/pnz227