By Ellen Lenox Smith, Columnist
Recently HelloMD, an online “telehealth” service that provides consultations with doctors who can write prescriptions for medical marijuana, conducted an extensive survey of 1,400 of patients. Patients were asked to complete a questionnaire consisting of 31 questions dealing with their marijuana use.
The survey results (which you can see by clicking here) really caught my attention and are very exciting.
The survey found that the most common conditions that medical marijuana was being used to treat were chronic pain, anxiety, stress and insomnia. Eight out of ten patients (84%) strongly agreed that cannabis provides them with relief from their symptoms.
Medical marijuana may be legal in 23 states, but many of those states have yet to certify chronic pain as a condition marijuana can be prescribed for. Yet we have 100 million in our country suffering from pain! Let’s hope surveys like this will help to educate those states.
“There were few to no reports of negative consequences of cannabis use, with over 96% of users either somewhat likely or highly likely to recommend cannabis use to friends, family or others seeking improved wellbeing,” according to the HelloMD report.
This statement does not surprise me at all, for we have not seen negative consequences of marijuana use since 2007, when my husband and I first started helping patients wanting to try cannabis. Those of us that have felt the benefits of cannabis talk and encourage others to consider trying it all the time when we meet someone who is suffering.
I also do not believe this was any select group surveyed by HellloMD, but are typical cannabis users that realized how gentle, safe and effective this medication is.
The survey found that middle aged and elderly patients were more likely to use marijuana for pain management, while younger age groups were using it to treat stress, anxiety, mental-health disorders, nausea and issues with appetite. I love this finding. That is exactly what we are observing in the different ages we deal with.
HelloMD also found that social perception of cannabis use is moving into the mainstream of society, as more and more states pass legislation allowing medical marijuana.
“Amongst those that use medical marijuana, 82% are open with family members about their use with 44% strongly agreeing. 15% still hide their use from family members (perhaps their children, although this is unclear from our data). 59.5% of patients are open with their close friends and a further 35% with all friends (close and otherwise). Only 5.3% do not admit to friends that they use medical marijuana,” the report found.
How exciting that we are now able to feel comfortable sharing the truth of our lives and the benefits we are gaining by being allowed to use this medication. As the report points out, there has never been a death from overdose attributed to cannabis and the safety record of cannabis is superior to that of pharmaceutical pain medications. This reinforces what we have been observing and I am thrilled what we have been saying is mentioned here!
“Our data indicates that 78% of those using cannabis for health and wellness are above the age of 25. In stark contrast to the stoner stereotype, these people are highly educated working professionals. Many are parents. They could be your friends, your colleagues, or your neighbors. All of them have legitimate health issues. All of them are seeking alternatives to traditional prescribed medication considered toxic and laden with the potential of negative side effects,” the report concludes.
Thanks to surveys like this, we can continue to work to get the education out there for people to understand that those of us using cannabis for pain are not all getting high or stoned. The brain receptors react to marijuana and we simply get pain relief! However, anyone can take too much of any medication and have a negative reaction.
I hope we will see even more surveys about medical marijuana, along with research, so that more will get on board and understand the advantages of this plant.
Ellen Lenox Smith suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome and sarcoidosis. Ellen and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical marijuana advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation and serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.
For more information about medical marijuana, visit their website.
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.