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Quarter of Parkinson’s patients have consumed cannabis



The study analysed survey responses from over 1,000 Parkinson's patients

The first survey of cannabis consumption in patients with Parkinson’s disease in the US reveals a quarter have used cannabis and less than 13 percent reported negative side-effects.

The Parkinson’s Foundation has announced the results of the medical cannabis and Parkinson’s disease (PD) survey. 

The survey, titled Weeding Through the Haze: A Survey on Cannabis Use Among People Living with Parkinson’s Disease in the US was distributed to 7,607 people with PD in January 2020, with 1,064 complete responses analysed.

The survey asked specific questions about cannabis use ― from symptom management to motivation for use and side effects ― and questions for those who do not use cannabis and why. 

Twenty-five percent of survey respondents consumed cannabis within the previous six months and less than 13 percent of consumers reported negative side-effects from cannabis use.

More than half of the respondents learned about cannabis from the internet or from friends or other people with PD.

“At a time when cannabis is legal in more states than ever before, we believe this survey provides new and critical information for the growing population of cannabis users who have Parkinson’s disease,” said James Beck, PhD, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation. 

“Ultimately, our goal is better outcomes for everyone living with Parkinson’s disease and we’re committed to tackling issues that are a priority for the PD community.”

The survey results show that there is a knowledge gap among people living with PD, which may be impacting their decisions about cannabis use. 

Fifty-six percent of survey respondents were not provided any information on how to use cannabis such as dosage, type and frequency of use. Sixty-four percent had not received a cannabis recommendation from a licensed doctor or provider. 

Overall, 89 percent said cannabis was not a replacement for their PD prescription medication.

Despite cannabis becoming widely available for medical and recreational use in the US,  until now, there was insufficient data about the attitudes towards, and experiences with, cannabis use among those living with PD. 

The 1,064 survey respondents came from 49 states. The average age for respondents was 71, and the average time they have lived with Parkinson’s is seven years.

It follows the results of a Germany survey published earlier this year, which found that over eight percent of patients with PD used cannabis products and more than half of those (54 percent) reported a beneficial clinical effect.

In a nationwide, questionnaire-based survey among members of the German Parkinson Association, over 1,300 questionnaires were analysed, with results showing that interest in medical cannabis among the Parkinson’s community was high, but knowledge about different types of products was limited.

Find the complete survey results in the open access journal npj Parkinson’s Disease or read the Parkinson’s Foundation’s full statement on medical cannabis and Parkinson’s disease. 

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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