Preferences for medical marijuana over prescription medications among persons living with chronic conditions: Alternative, complementary, and tapering uses

Douglas Bruce, John P. Brady, Elissa Foster, Mona Shattell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: Despite expanded legalization and utilization of medical cannabis (MC) internationally, there is a lack of patient-centered data on how MC is used by persons living with chronic conditions in tandem with or instead of prescription medications. This study describes approaches to use of MC vis-à-vis prescription medications in the treatment of selected chronic conditions. Design: Participants completed semistructured telephone interviews with open-ended questions. Content analysis of qualitative data identified themes and subthemes relating to patient approaches to using MC products. Participants: Thirty persons (mean age = 44.6 years) living with a range of chronic conditions (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, spinal cord injury/disease, and cancer) who had qualified for and used MC in Illinois. Results: Participants described a range of approaches to using MC, including (1) as alternatives to using prescription or over-the-counter medications; (2) complementary use with prescription medications; and (3) as a means for tapering off prescription medications. Motives reported for reducing or eliminating prescription medications included concerns regarding toxicity, dependence, and tolerance, and perceptions that MC improves management of certain symptoms and has quicker action and longer lasting effects. Conclusions: MC appears to serve as both a complementary method for symptom management and treatment of medication side-effects associated with certain chronic conditions, and as an alternative method for treatment of pain, seizures, and inflammation in this population. Additional patient-centered research is needed to identify specific dosing patterns of MC products associated with symptom alleviation and produce longitudinal data assessing chronic disease outcomes with MC use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-153
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Medical Marijuana
Prescriptions
Spinal Cord Diseases
Spinal Cord Injuries
Crohn Disease
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Seizures
Chronic Disease
Therapeutics

Keywords

  • cannabis/cannabinoids
  • harm reduction
  • medical marijuana
  • pain
  • symptom management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

Cite this

Preferences for medical marijuana over prescription medications among persons living with chronic conditions : Alternative, complementary, and tapering uses. / Bruce, Douglas; Brady, John P.; Foster, Elissa; Shattell, Mona.

In: Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 24, No. 2, 01.02.2018, p. 146-153.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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