Symptomatic management of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is complex and many symptoms, especially non-motor symptoms, are not effectively addressed with current medications. In the US, cannabis has become more widely available for medical and recreational use, permitting those in the PD community to try alternative means of symptom control. However, little is known about the attitudes towards, and experiences with, cannabis use among those living with PD. To address this shortcoming, we distributed an anonymous survey to 7,607 people with PD in January 2020 and received 1339 responses (17.6%). 1064 complete responses were available for analysis. Respondents represented 49 states with a mean age of 71.2 years (±8.3) and mean PD duration of 7.4 years (±6.2). About a quarter of respondents (24.5%) reported cannabis use within the previous six months. Age and gender were found to be predictors of cannabis use in this sample (Age OR = 0.95, 95% CI 0.93 to 0.97; Male OR = 1.44, 95% CI 1.03 to 2.03). Users reported learning about cannabis use from the internet/news (30.5%) and friends or other people with PD (26.0%). Cannabis users were more likely to report insufficient control of their non-motor symptoms with prescription medications than non-users (p = 0.03). Cannabis was primarily used for PD (63.6%) and was most often used to treat nonmotor symptoms of anxiety (45.5%), pain (44.0%), and sleep disorders (44.0%). However, nearly a quarter of users (23.0%) also reported they had stopped cannabis use in the previous six months, primarily due to a lack of symptom improvement (35.5%). Three quarters of respondents (75.5%) did not use cannabis, primarily because there was a lack of scientific evidence supporting efficacy (59.9%). Our results suggest that the lack of formal guidance or research evidence about cannabis for PD may in part underlie inconsistencies in both use and reported effectiveness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience