The survey also showed that almost 73 percent had tried it, even though about half said they hadn’t received information from a doctor about its benefits and risks.
A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report issued before the survey concluded that certain cannabinoids can decrease spasticity and pain in MS patients. The report was based on the most recent research weighing the risks and benefits of medical marijuana.
The sponsor of the survey, GeneFo, is an online MS community that connects patients with MS experts and clinical trials in their area.
Although 95 percent of the patients in the survey said they would consider medical marijuana as a treatment option, 60 percent said they would use it only if a physician recommended it. Of the 60 percent, 81 percent said they had never discussed the option with a doctor.
Fifty percent said they knew little about marijuana’s effects on MS symptoms, and 50 percent also said they had asked their doctor for more information about it.
The survey results suggest there is a gap between patients’ willingness to learn more about and try medical marijuana and their ability to obtain information about it, starting at the physician’s office.
In fact, when patients listed the reasons they were not taking medical cannabis, lack of knowledge was the second biggest concern, trailing only concern about its legality. Other concerns, such as negative opinions of family and friends, fear of addition or other risks did not weigh on patient motivation.
When asked whether they had used medical marijuana, and it they had, whether it had alleviated their symptoms, 72.5 percent reported using it, and about half reported positive results.
Based on the information the survey generated, the authors recommended that doctors revise their care protocols to inform patients about medical marijuana, to ensure its safe use.
Those wanting to join GeneFo’s medical-marijuana advocacy effort can watch a free webinar Feb. 16 titled “Treating MS Symptoms with Medical Cannabis.” An expert in cannabinoid therapy, Eloise Theisen, will discuss the neurological benefits and risks of its use.