Cannabis for therapeutic purposes: Patient characteristics, access, and reasons for use
Zach Walsh, Robert Callaway, Lynne Belle-Isle, Rielle Capler, Robert Kay, Philippe Lucas, Susan Holtzman
The authorized and unauthorized use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes (CTP) has increased dramatically in recent years, and physicians have called for further research to better clarify the parameters of effective and appropriate use. We report findings from a large cross-sectional study of the use of CTP in Canada and compare use across medical conditions and across authorized and unauthorized users.
We examined cannabis use history, medical conditions and symptoms, patterns of current use of CTP, modes of access and perceived effectiveness among 628 self-selected Canadians consumers of CTP. Participants were recruited from medical cannabis dispensaries and from organizations that assist users of CTP.
Patients reported using cannabis to treat multiple symptoms, with sleep, pain, and anxiety being the most common. Cannabis was perceived to provide effective symptoms relief across medical conditions. Patterns of use were also consistent across medical conditions. Notable differences were observed with regard to modes of access.
Across medical conditions respondents reported using cannabis to effectively address diverse symptoms. Results indicate a substantial disconnect between the therapeutic use of cannabis and research on the risks and benefits of such use; particularly with regard to the anxiolytic and sedative use of cannabis. Authorized and unauthorized users exhibited few meaningful differences with regard to medical conditions and patterns of use, but faced substantial differences regarding access.
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