Patients may be better off using cannabis instead of pharmaceutical derivatives, according to the largest study conducted so far.
Researchers from Canada, U.S., Germany and The Netherlands surveyed 953 patients from 31 countries on their experiences with different forms of medical marijuana.
Published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, the results show that patients are more satisfied overall with natural cannabis. Pharmaceutical preparations only scored higher in 1 of 9 categories measured, which was “ease of preparation and intake.”
“In general, herbal non-pharmaceutical CBMs (cannabinoid-based medicines) received higher appreciation scores by participants than pharmaceutical products containing cannabinoids.”
The study may be unwelcome news for companies that manufacture cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, such as Marinol and Sativex.
Despite being more accepted by health professionals, patients seem to find natural cannabis superior when it comes to dose needed, onset and duration of effects and, perhaps most important, side effect profile.
“Besides the need for such products to be standardized and quality controlled, our data suggest that overall there is good satisfaction with whole plant preparations that are affordable and administered in an inhaled manner, or in the form of a tincture.”
Out of the different methods of taking cannabis, vaporizing was reported to have the least side effects, followed by tea and smoking. Patients also report paying more to obtain cannabis pharmaceuticals rather than cannabis itself.
Pharmaceutical preparations often cost more than herbal cannabisWhile the researchers only included responses from patients who had tried at least two different forms of medical marijuana, they caution that the results have limitations.For example, homemade cannabis preparations allow for more customization than standardized pharmaceuticals, which may improve the patient experience.
Still, the authors believe that the latest findings present “a broad picture” of the current patient experience with cannabis medicine, and may be useful for “further development of safe and effective medications based on cannabis and single cannabinoids.”
The study received funding from the International Assocation for Cannabinoid Medicine (IACM) and Bedrocan BV