Patterns of Medical Cannabis Use among Patients Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2021 May:50:102830. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2021.102830. Epub 2021 Feb 10.


Objective: To survey the pattern and benefits of medical cannabis use (MCU) in a cross section of persons with multiple sclerosis (PWMS).

Methods: One hundred and fifteen subjects completed a 36-question survey online or on paper which queried aspects of their use of cannabis, including frequency of use, effect on symptoms, and changes in their use of prescription medications, as well asa number of key demographic variables such as age, gender, disease duration and clinical course, etc. All subjects were treated at a multiple sclerosis (MS) clinic in Connecticut and enrolled in the Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program (CTMMP).

Results: Self-reported benefit from cannabis use for two or more symptoms of MS was associated with relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) vs progressive (PMS) (OR 3.043, 95% CI 1.026-9.028, p=0.038) and less benefit for two or more symptoms for those who required a wheelchair vs. those who ambulated without assistance (OR .246, 95% CI .195-.797, p=0.016). General benefit from cannabis use was reported for mood disorders (p<0.001), insomnia (p<0.001), sensory symptoms, including pain (p<0.001), and muscle cramps and spasms (p<0.001). Furthermore, benefit was also significantly associated with symptom severity in the case of insomnia (OR 9.735, 95% CI 2.751-34.445, p<0.001), and cramps and spasms (OR 5.234, 95% CI 1.261-21.729, p=0.014). A significant proportion of respondents had stopped or reduced prescription medications (86% vs. 55%, p<0.001) as a function of finding cannabis more effective than prescription medications. These included opioids, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers and other pain medications.

Conclusion: MCU among PWMS can lead to the reduction or discontinuation of several categories of prescription medications for symptoms of MS. Persons reporting the most benefit from MCU tended to have a milder form of MS with less disability, in contrast to previous studies. This study confirms the benefit of cannabis in several common MS symptoms, extending these findings to show that benefit can be related to baseline severity of some symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis*
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana* / therapeutic use
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Medical Marijuana