Study: Cancer Patients Enrolled In State’s Medical Cannabis Program Report Symptom Mitigation

Medical Cannabis

St. Paul, MN: Cancer patients enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis access program report a significant reduction in disease symptoms following the use of marijuana, according to data published in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

Investigators with the Minnesota Department of Health assessed patients’ self-reported symptom severity scores at baseline and again following four months of cannabis treatment.

Authors reported "a significant reduction in scores … across all symptoms" (anxiety, lack of appetite, depression, disturbed sleep, fatigue, nausea, pain, and vomiting).

They concluded: "Patients with cancer enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program showed significant reduction across all eight symptoms assessed within four months of program participation. Medical cannabis was well tolerated, and some patients attained clinically meaningful and lasting levels of improvement."

A 2018 Israeli clinical trial reported that over 90 percent of elderly patients diagnosed with either cancer or chronic pain expressed improvement in their condition following six-months of cannabis therapy. A study from earlier this year reported that subjects who use marijuana adjunctively with conventional cancer treatment experienced reduced levels of fatigue, insomnia, and appetite loss as compared to matched controls. A literature review published this year in the journal Cancers concludes, "The complex, though moderate, action of cannabis makes it suitable for the treatment of concomitant symptoms, such as pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, spasticity, seizures, mood disorders, loss of appetite, which is a frequent condition in the palliative care patient."

An estimated one in five cancer patients consume cannabis for symptom management.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director. Full text of the study, "Impact of medical cannabis on patient-reported symptoms for patients with cancer enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program," appears in the Journal of Oncology Practice.