Clinical indications for medicinal cannabis use include those with cancer, a subgroup advised to avoid exposure to COVID-19. This study aims to identify changes to cannabis use, methods of cannabis delivery, and coping strategies among cancer survivors since the pandemic by cancer status. Chi-squared tests were used for univariate comparisons of demographic characteristics, cannabis use patterns, COVID-19 symptoms, and coping behaviors by cancer survivor status. Data included 158 responses between 21 March 2020 and 23 March 2021, from medicinal cannabis users, categorized as cancer survivors (n = 79) along with age-matched medicinal cannabis users without a history of cancer (n = 79). Compared to adults without a history of cancer, cancer survivors were more likely to report use of cannabis as a way of managing nausea/vomiting (40.5% versus 20.3%, p = 0.006), headaches or migraines (35.4% versus 19.0%, p = 0.020), seizures (8.9% versus 1.3%, p = 0.029), and sleep problems (70.9% versus 54.4%, p = 0.033), or as an appetite stimulant (39.2% versus 17.7%, p = 0.003). Nearly 23% of cancer survivors reported an advanced cannabis supply of more than 3 months compared to 14.3% of adults without a history of cancer (p = 0.002); though the majority of cancer survivors reported less than a one-month supply. No statistically significant differences were observed by cancer survivor status by cannabis dose, delivery, or sharing of electronic vaping devices, joints, or blunts. Cancer survivors were more likely to report a fear of being diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to adults without a history of cancer (58.2% versus 40.5%, p = 0.026). Given the frequency of mental and physical health symptoms reported among cancer survivors, clinicians should consider conversations about cannabis use with their patients, in particular among cancer survivors.
Keywords: COVID-19; cancer; cannabis; chronic disease; marijuana; pandemic; substance use.