In the United States, more than 2.1 million people are registered with state programs for the use of medicinal cannabis and use cannabis for more than 40 different health conditions. The cannabis plant consists of hundreds of distinct chemicals, 120 of which are unique to the cannabis plant (i.e., phytocannabinoids). Cannabis & quality of life, the U.S. study.
2.1 million officially registered medical cannabis users
The two most common phytocannabinoids are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC, which is very interesting for its medical possibilities of action, produces many characteristic side effects (e.g. euphoria, increased appetite, dry mouth, paranoia, cognitive disorders). CBD, on the other hand, does not produce THC, has little or no risk of abuse, and has been associated with relatively few acute side effects in human clinical trials.
The study of medical cannabis users
This study was conducted by the Realm of Caring Foundation (Colorado Springs, CO), a non-profit organization dedicated to therapeutic cannabis research and education, in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD). The Realm of Caring Foundation is a resource for those seeking information related to the therapeutic use of cannabis. Participants were recruited from the Realm of Caring Foundation patient registry and social network publications published by the organization. The participants included both those who were already using a cannabis product and those who were considering starting to use a medicinal cannabis product. You can view the study by clicking here.
The 1276 participants were registered between April 2016 and February 2018. Of these, 524 were adult patients who used cannabis for medicinal purposes and 284 were adult caregivers of children or dependent adults who used cannabis for medicinal purposes (cannabis users; n = 808). The control group consisted of 271 adult patients who were considering but had not yet started therapeutic cannabis use, and 197 adult caregivers who were considering therapeutic cannabis use for a dependent child or adult patient ( n = 468). These participants responded by e-mail to these follow-up assessments every 3 months: initiation, cessation, maintenance of medical cannabis use.
Results of the study
Why use medical marijuana?
Among cannabis users, 27% reported that a doctor had explicitly recommended cannabis use; 45% reported that a doctor did not recommend use and 28% did not respond. Cannabis use was reported as first-line therapy for primary health status for 11%, second-line therapy for 18%, adjunctive therapy for 39%, and treatment of last resort for 29% of cannabis users.
The most commonly approved health conditions were neurological (e.g., epilepsy, multiple sclerosis), chronic pain (e.g., fibromyalgia, chronic back pain), and psychiatric (e.g., anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder).
What type of medical cannabis?
Fifty-eight percent of patients used CBD-dominant products. In comparison, THC-dominant products were used by 13%, THC / CBD balanced products by 5%, and products with the highest concentration of a minor cannabinoid, such as cannabigerol (CBG) or cannabinol (CBN), by 3% of Cannabis Users. Many participants (21%) did not know or did not specify the chemotype of the cannabis products they used.
Under which method of use?
Cannabis tinctures or oils for oral ingestion were the most frequently reported formulations of cannabis (47%), followed by dried cannabis flowers (9%), “edible products” (8%), concentrates (3%) and other formulations such as topicals or suppositories (3%).
Which quality of life can medical cannabis provide?
Cannabis users reported improved quality of life and perceived health satisfaction, and had significantly higher scores for physical health and social relationships.
Longitudinal testing suggests that group differences may be due to the medicinal use of cannabis. While biases related to pre-existing beliefs about the health benefits of cannabis in this sample must be taken into account, these results indicate that clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of defined cannabinoid products for specific health conditions are warranted.