Canada legalized recreational cannabis in October of 2018. However, it has been legal for medical purposes since 2001, with over 230,000 individuals having acquired medical client registrations by early 2018.
Cannabis is a popular alternative or complementary therapy among people with multiple sclerosis (MS), whose use of cannabis has been estimated as high as four times that of the general population. Despite its growing use in MS, evidence for the efficacy of cannabis-based medicines is rather weak.
In a recently published study, researchers evaluated the extent of medical cannabis use by people with MS in Canada, the prevalence of its use, reasons for use, and adverse effects. The results appear in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
For the study an anonymous questionnaire was distributed to prospective participants through various channels, it included questions about participant characteristics and quality of life, their MS, and their medical cannabis use. Also, two validated patient-reported outcome measures, the PDDS, and the MSQOL-54 were used.
The study included a total of 344 participants. Based on disease and quality of life data, the team found that responders with more severe or progressive forms of MS were more likely to have tried medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis was used most by current and former users to treat sleep problems (84.2%), pain (80%), and spasticity (68.4%).
Over 80% of current users reported cannabis as being effective or highly effective in treating spasticity, pain, sleep problems, bad mood, and stress and 50–80% reported it as effective in treating anxiety, headache, and fatigue.
Talia M Santarossa, et al. Medical cannabis use in Canadians with multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2022.103638