Sources of Cannabis Information and Medical Guidance for Neurologic Use: NARCOMS Survey of People Living With Multiple Sclerosis

Background and Objectives

As cannabis products become increasingly accessible across the United States, understanding how patients obtain medical information on cannabis and view the role of their health care provider in providing information is important.

Methods

Participants with multiple sclerosis (MS) from the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis registry completed a supplemental survey on 9-tetrahydrocannabinol-containing cannabis use between March and April 2020. Participants reported dialogue with health care providers regarding cannabis use, information sources used to make product decisions, and expenditure on cannabis. Findings are reported using descriptive statistics.

Results

Overall, 3,249 participants responded (47% response rate), of whom 31% ever used cannabis and 20% currently used cannabis for MS. To determine presumed cannabis contents, respondents who had ever used cannabis (ever users) most often used dispensary-provided information (39%), word of mouth/dealer/friend (29%), and unregulated product labels (24%). For general information on cannabis for MS, ever users most often used dispensary staff (38%) and friends (32%). The primary source of medical guidance among ever users was most often “nobody or myself” (48%), followed by a dispensary professional (21%); only 12% relied on their MS physician, although 70% had discussed cannabis with their MS physician. Most current users (62%) typically sourced their cannabis from a dispensary. The most common factor in selecting a cannabis product was perceived quality and safety (70%).

Discussion

Participants most often received information on cannabis for MS from dispensaries, unregulated product labels, and friends; only a small proportion used health care providers. Evidence-based patient and physician education is needed.

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