Patterns of Medical Cannabis Use among Cancer Patients from a Medical Cannabis Dispensary in New York State
Background: Research on the patterns of use of medical cannabis among cancer patients is lacking.
Objective: To describe patterns of medical cannabis use by patients with cancer, and how patterns differ from patients without cancer.
Design/Measurements: We performed secondary data analysis using data from a medical cannabis licensee in New York State, analyzing demographic information, qualifying conditions, and symptoms, and the medical cannabis product used, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD) ratios.
Setting/Subjects: Adults age ≥18 who used New York State medical cannabis licensee products between January 2016 and December 2017.
Results: There were a total of 11,590 individuals with 1990 (17.2%) having cancer who used at least one cannabis product. Patients with cancer using cannabis were older and more likely to be female. The most common qualifying symptom for both cancer and noncancer patients was severe or chronic pain. Cancer patients were more likely to use the sublingual tincture form of cannabis (n = 1098, 55.2%), while noncancer patients were more likely to use the vaporization form (n = 4222, 44.0%). Over time, across all patients, there was an increase in the THC daily dose by a factor of 0.20 mg/week, yielding a corresponding increase in the THC:CBD daily ratio. Compared with noncancer patients, these trends were not different in the cancer group for THC daily dose, but there were less pronounced increases in the THC:CBD daily ratio over time among cancer patients.
Conclusions: Our study found some key differences in demographics and medical cannabis product use between patients with cancer and without cancer.