Background: Thirty-six states, including Florida, have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, yet how it is used and perceived by persons with cancer is not well understood. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify patterns of use, perceived benefits, and side effects of medical marijuana (MMJ) among cancer patients in Florida. Methods: For this descriptive, cross-sectional study, anyone residing within the state of Florida who was diagnosed or treated for a malignancy within the last five years and had used MMJ was eligible. An online survey containing questions about dosing, side effects, perceived benefits, and barriers to use was used. Descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentages, means, and standard deviations were used to analyze quantitative data. Responses to open-ended questions were coded and categorized. Results: Sleep (n = 112), pain (n = 96), and anxiety (n = 82) were the most common symptoms participants used MMJ to relieve and overall felt it was highly effective. MMJ was well tolerated with a minority (10.3%) reporting any adverse effects. Cost was the most frequent barrier reported by participants (42.8%). A variety of legal, bureaucratic, and system-related barriers were described. Conclusion: Participants perceived MMJ to be helpful in alleviating cancer symptoms. They held negative perceptions of the way MMJ is implemented and integrated into their oncology treatment plan. Enhanced communication and patient/provider education on MMJ are needed to inform patient decision making.
Keywords: cancer; cannabis; symptoms; tetrahydrocannabinol.