Study Results Show 74% of MS Patients Would Consider Using Cannabis Products

Results from a recent study conducted at the Rocky Mountain MS Center at University of Colorado examining cannabis use by patients with multiple sclerosis were published recently in the Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders journal.

A voluntary survey was completed by 251 MS patients between the ages of 18 and 89 years old at the RMMSC at University of Colorado. Questions explored personal opinions about cannabis use; the characteristics of each patient's cannabis use; MS history/diagnosis and sociodemographic details; and patient reported health outcomes (PROs) related to mobility, quality of life, and cognition.

The effort to legalize cannabis (marijuana) has gathered significant momentum, with 30 states and the District of Columbia having passed legislation legalizing cannabis in some form, with legalization of recreational use in nine states. As the legal status of cannabis has shifted, the safety and efficacy of cannabis as a treatment option has become an increasingly important topic. Debate concerning the medicinal usefulness of cannabis largely persists because of the plant's complexity.

In MS patients, cannabis products have been shown to provide relief from symptoms including central pain, muscle spasticity/tightness, and painful muscle spasms in clinical studies and over 20 years of observational data from questionnaires assessing perceptions of cannabis, extent of use, and perceived impact on multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms.

  • 38 percent of MS patients surveyed were current cannabis users.
  • 74 percent of MS patients would personally consider using cannabis.
  • Current cannabis users reported higher median disability on the PDDS scale than non-users.
  • 53 percent of cannabis users had limited exposure to cannabis prior to their MS diagnosis.
  • Cannabis use may be causing a reduced use of conventional pharaceutical therapies.

“The interest in cannabis keeps growing. Seventy-four percent of our patients with MS would consider using cannabis products and 95 percent thought there should be more research on it. The majority of current cannabis users used cannabis at least in part for medical purposes (92 percent), with 57 percent using strictly for medical purposes only,” explains Dr. Enrique Alvarez, the lead investigator on the study and clinical director at RMMSC at CU. “With 38 percent of our clinic population being current users, that is higher than any other symptomatic drug used -- leading baclofen at 28 percent and gabapentin at 24 percent of our patients. Many of our patients, thankfully, are avoiding smoking or combusting cannabis, which has been linked with increasing the number of relapses due to other substances besides THC or CBD.”

To read the full study results, please click here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211034818305157?dgcid=author