Why Are So Many Cancer Patients Smoking Marijuana?

(HEALTHLINE) More and more cancer patients are using marijuana to relieve a variety of symptoms. But even in states where it’s legal, patients are not getting the information they need.

About 25 percent of cancer patients use marijuana. PHOTO: Cannabis Culture, CC

About 25 percent of cancer patients use marijuana.

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At least that appears to be the case in Washington, a state with legalized marijuana.

Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational marijuana in 2012. It’s been commercially available there since 2014.

With more than half of U.S. states now allowing medical marijuana, researchers wanted to determine how many cancer patients take advantage of the availability.

For the study, Dr. Steven Pergam of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and his colleagues surveyed patients at the Seattle Cancer Center Alliance.

Of 2,737 eligible patients, 926 completed the anonymous survey.

Study authors acknowledge there might be some sampling bias due to the small response. They noted that it’s possible that current use patterns may be overrepresented or underrepresented.

Of those who responded, the median age was 58.

About 66 percent said they had previously used marijuana. About 24 percent used it in the past year and 21 percent in the past month.

Responses were validated by random urine samples.

The full study is published in the journal Cancer.

Use of medical marijuana growing

Dr. Junella Chin is an osteopath and integrative cannabis physician.

She has practiced in California and New York, two states that have legalized medical marijuana.

“There is an absolute increase in states where it has been legalized. I have seen this in California over the last decade, and now in New York City,” she told Healthline.

Chin said there’s been a surge of patients registered in the New York State Medical Marijuana Program.

“What is not typical about my practice is that even among the limited number of doctors who are performing medical cannabis evaluations, I am one of the few who does them in the context of a full-scope general medical practice,” said Chin. Read the full story at Healthline.com. Also of interest: Marijuana Triggers Paranoia and Psychosis: Researchers

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