Inadequate Medical Information Available Regarding Cannabis Use in MS

NeurologyLiveDecember 2021
Volume 4
Issue 7

All told, 48% of patients with MS reported that their most common primary person for guidance on cannabis use in MS was themself or no one, followed by a dispensary professional and MS physician.

Robert Fox, MD

Robert Fox, MD

Although most patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) had discussed cannabis with their MS physician, only 12% of patients considered them their primary source for medical guidance on the matter, suggesting that inadequate medical and clinical information sources are available to these patients and their healthcare providers. There are currently no tetrahydrocannabidiol-containing FDA-approved medications for physicians to prescribe patients with MS.

Lead author Robert Fox, MD, neurologist, Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis, and Vice-Chair for Research, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues, conducted a supplemental survey on cannabis use in 1012 North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) participants who were either past users (n = 376) or current users (n = 636). The findings, which explored the sources of product information, as well as product preferences, were presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), October 25-28.

Among those who reported ever using cannabis (n = 1012), 70% of patients discussed it with a physician treating MS, but only 12% obtained medical guidance. In total, 48% of ever users reported that either nobody or themselves was the primary person providing medical guidance for cannabis use. Dispensary professionals, used by 21% of the entire cohort, were the second most, ahead of MS physician (12%), other physicians (8%), other patients with MS (8%), other licensed healthcare providers (3%), and pharmacists (1%).

READ MORE: Optimized Conversations Suggested to Improve Patient Outcomes in Multiple Sclerosis

Dispensaries (39%) were the most frequently reported information source to determine product contents among ever users, and were even more utilized by current users (45%). After dispensaries, dealer/friend (29%), product label (24%), and certificate of analysis (13%) were the most used source from the entire cohort. Healthcare provider, the fifth most used source, was reported by 9% of ever users.

Among current users, 62% reported that they typically get the cannabis they use from dispensaries, while 18% said family/friend, 13% acquaintance, and 7% said someone grows it for them. Growing it on their own (6%), dealer (5%), online (4%), and other (3%) rounded out the other methods of acquiring cannabis.

Investigators also questioned patients on what the most important factors were when selecting a source from which to purchase cannabis. The most common answers were perceived quality and safety (70%), access to preferred potency or formulation (40%), and location (39%), among others.

In the survey, cannabis/marijuana referred to products from the cannabis/marijuana plant, which included smoking, vaping, eating, ingesting, or any other form of use. The study also excluded hemp cannabidiol (CBD) or products marketed as CBD only.

For more coverage of CMSC 2021, click here.

Fox R, Salter A, Cutter G, Steinerman JR, Nichol K, Smith K. Sources of cannabis information and medical guidance among people with multiple sclerosis: NARCOMS survey results. Presented at CMSC 2021; October 25-28.
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