Study: Long-term use of medicinal cannabis improves quality of life

The majority of patients say their quality of life has improved since using medicinal cannabis. The Netherlands pharmacovigilance centre Lareb and the Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC) have studied Dutch patients’ experience with medicinal cannabis and published the results in the December 2023 issue of Dutch Pharmaceutical Weekly magazine (PW). The article concludes that patients who use medicinal cannabis for more than six months see an improvement in their quality of life. However, some side effects are also mentioned, such as dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache and increased appetite. A negative side note is that ‘many users find the costs a barrier, as medicinal cannabis is not eligible for reimbursement in the Netherlands.’

Quality of life

The researchers write in the PW: “The majority of participants (87%) agree that their quality of life has improved since using medicinal cannabis. This is especially true for patients who use it for more than six months (93%). Of the patients who used it for less than six months, a smaller proportion believe that their quality of life has improved (62%) and 33% are neutral about this. The most frequently mentioned explanation for an improvement in quality of life is that the symptoms are under control, sleep is improved and the number of symptoms is reduced.”

Medicinal cannabis

Medicinal cannabis is an unregistered medicine that can only be prescribed by a doctor. Indications for which cannabis is used include chronic neuropathic pain, palliative treatment of HIV/AIDS and cancer, epilepsy, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, and treatment-resistant glaucoma. However, the Dutch Association of General Practitioners (NHG) does not recommend the use of medicinal cannabis because there is still too little scientific evidence about its effect. In the coming years, Bedrocan will conduct its own research into the effects of medicinal cannabis.

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