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Parkinson’s Patients Report Using Cannabis for Symptom Relief

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A new study has found almost a quarter of patients with Parkinson’s disease reported using cannabis to ease their symptoms.

The Parkinson’s Foundation initially launched the survey in the beginning of the year to help better understand Parkinson’s patients and their attitudes and experiences with cannabis. The survey was completed by 1,062 Parkinson’s disease patients across 49 states.

Results from the survey showed 24.5 percent of respondents had used cannabis in the past six months. Cannabis users were about three years younger than non-users (69 vs. 72 years) and reported learning about cannabis from the internet or the news or friends and other Parkinson’s patients. Patients said they used cannabis to address Parkinson’s and not other conditions, specifically the non-motor symptoms of anxiety, pain and sleep disorders. However, 23 percent of those who used cannabis reported they quit using cannabis, mainly due to lack of symptom relief.

Patients that didn’t use cannabis primarily cited the lack of research on cannabis’ effectiveness as a treatment as the reason they weren’t consuming. Non-users were more likely to report more satisfaction from using their prescriptions medications. The researchers believe the lack of formal research to be the driving factor behind the inconsistencies in both use of cannabis and its effectiveness.

“Understanding what the Parkinson’s community thinks of and how they use cannabis can help identify areas of potential symptom benefit, inform medical recommendations and aid in the design of future clinical trials exploring cannabis as a treatment for Parkinson’s,” the researchers concluded.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) recently supported increased access to cannabis for medical research to determine the benefits of cannabis when treating Parkinson’s disease. The MJFF also sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018 to urge the government to reschedule cannabis.

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