A study comparing people using medical cannabis and hemp for a wide variety of health conditions with a control group of people with similar health concerns who were not using any cannabis products found cannabis users endure less pain, are more relaxed, and were significantly less likely to have recently gone to an emergency room or been admitted to the hospital.

The study involved ongoing surveys of 1,276 patients registered with Realm of Caring, a nonprofit organization that supports research into the use of both medical marijuana and hemp products without THC. The patients included 808 cannabis users, most of whom were using hemp products, and 468 patients who were not yet using cannabis. The participants were queried every three months between April 2016 and February 2018 about their physical and mental health, use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, and whether they had been to the ER or admitted to the hospital within the past month. By every measure, cannabis users ranked healthier, mentally and physically, than non-users.

The research who oversaw the study, Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said perhaps the strongest indication of the medical benefits of cannabis is that non-users who began using cannabis over the course of the study reported improved health and well being after they began. “People felt better when they started. That is a powerful signal,” he said.