The Parkinson’s Foundation released the results of a “first-ever” medical cannabis and Parkinson’s disease (PD) survey of its kind, titled “Weeding Through the Haze: A Survey on Cannabis Use Among People Living with Parkinson’s Disease in the U.S.” The survey adds to the arsenal of growing evidence to suggest benefits from cannabis for people living with PD.
According to a March 3 press release, the survey was distributed to 7,607 people living with PD during January 2020, and over 1,064 complete responses were analyzed. Twenty-five percent of respondents said that they had used cannabis during the previous six months and less than 13 percent of consumers reported negative side effects. Over half of the respondents said they had learned about cannabis use from the internet or from word-of-mouth.
“At a time when cannabis is legal in more states than ever before, we believe this survey provides new and critical information for the growing population of cannabis users who have Parkinson’s disease,” said James Beck, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “Ultimately, our goal is better outcomes for everyone living with Parkinson’s disease and we’re committed to tackling issues that are a priority for the PD community.”
Fifty-six percent of respondents said they lacked any information on how to use cannabis regarding dosage, type and frequency of use. Sixty-four percent said they did not have a doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis. Overall, however, 89 percent said cannabis did not fully replace their PD prescription medication—reaffirming the need for a combination of cannabis with pharmaceutical medicine.
Just last month, a German survey indicated that over half of patients with Parkinson’s disease reported improvement thanks to medical cannabis. In that study, about 1,300 responses were analyzed—close to the number of responses listed in the American survey. Both point to positive effects from cannabis, albeit usually not to entirely replace pharmaceutical drugs.
Several efforts are underway to learn more about cannabis and PD. As earlier reported, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) champions several medical cannabis bills that would enable more research into the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for PD. “Pre-clinical work, including several studies funded by MJFF, shows that cannabinoids may protect brain cells through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms,” Rachel Dolhun, MD wrote on the foundation’s website.