A group of UK researchers have just concluded an observational study investigating the safety and outcomes of cannabis use in improving the quality of life of patients with chronic illnesses. In this study, the researchers analyzed the medical records of patients enrolled in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry (UKMCR).
Medical cannabis is legal in the UK but it is only prescribed when all other available “conventional” treatments have been tried and failed. This model provided impetus for the researchers to conduct the study; why is medical cannabis only the last treatment option for patients?
For the study, the researchers considered patients who had received cannabis for any condition under the UKMCR program. The cannabis products were in the form of oil, capsules, dried flower, or lozenges. They were either pure cannabinoid isolates, broad spectrum, or full spectrum formulations.
A total of 3546 patients had been enrolled in the UKMCR by the 15th of February, 2022. The researchers excluded 443 patients who had not completed the outcome (PROM) feedback and another 270 who had received treatment for less than a month. The remaining 2833 were included in the study.
It’s no surprise that the researchers found cannabis treatment was associated with health-related improvement in the quality of life of patients with severe chronic illnesses. Other similar studies have found a correlation between the severity of illness and response to cannabis treatment where the response was greater with increased severity of the disease. While the present study did not show such a relationship, it is important to note that medical cannabis is only offered to those who are severely ill in the UK.
The researchers also found that women and non-regular users were more susceptible to adverse effects from the treatment.
This is not the first (or second or third) study that has demonstrated that cannabis use improves the quality of life of patients with chronic illnesses. It’s a wonder that we still keep citing paucity of data as a valid reason for withholding or even criminalizing cannabis as a treatment option for deserving patients. Is it not?