Exploring cannabis use by patients with multiple sclerosis in a state where cannabis is legal

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2019 Jan:27:383-390. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2018.11.022. Epub 2018 Nov 20.


Background: Studies suggest cannabis may improve symptoms like pain and muscle spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Despite cannabis' new-found legality and availability, few studies have explored the profile of PwMS cannabis users and characteristics of their use, particularly in a state where cannabis is legal both for recreational and medicinal use. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate cannabis use among PwMS at a large academic multiple sclerosis (MS) clinic, specifically: (1) prevalence, (2) products used (e.g., cannabidiol vs Δ9-tetrahydocannabinol), (3) symptom treatment, and (4) patient characteristics.

Methods: PwMS completed questions assessing personal opinions about cannabis use, characteristics of cannabis use, MS history, and sociodemographic details, as well as the self-reported disability-Patient Determined Disease Steps (PDDS), overall quality of life-the Patient Reported Outcome Measure Information System (PROMIS-10), and cognition-the Neuro-QoL ACGC v1.0 measures.

Results: Thirty-eight percent (n = 96) of PwMS were current Cannabis users (CUs). Although there were no sociodemographic or clinical differences (p ≤ 0.05) between CUs and Non-Cannabis users (NUs), CUs had significantly higher median disability compared to NUs (PDDS = 2 vs. 1; p = 0.02). Among CUs, 57% categorized their use as strictly medicinal. CUs reported using cannabis most often for pain and insomnia/poor sleep and experienced greater than 60% benefit/relief from cannabis use. Over 90% of respondents desire more research on cannabis for MS, and 74% indicated they would consider using cannabis for their MS.

Conclusion: As cannabis legalization has impacted the variety of cannabis products available, there appears to be growing numbers of PwMS using cannabis, with this study's CUs reporting use of highly efficacious products with minimal side-effects.

Keywords: CBD; Cannabis; Marijuana; Multiple Sclerosis; THC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Medical Marijuana / adverse effects
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Muscle Spasticity / complications
  • Pain / complications
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors


  • Medical Marijuana