Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pot Patients Are Diverse and Satisfied, Huge Survey Finds

By David Downs
Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 9:52 AM

Medical pot patients are anything but stereotypical and are generally very satisfied with the botanical drug for a wide variety of reasons, new survey results indicate. The doctor-recommendation app HelloMD polled 17,000 patients in January, and got 1,400 respondents in seven days. While the new study’s generalizability is limited, the large, comprehensive survey shines some critical light on what’s going on and adds to the woefully thin public health literature on medical cannabis.

“… the prevailing perception of a medical marijuana patient is that of a masquerading recreational user (a stoner). … our research and analysis show a much larger portion be genuinely seeking an alternative to traditional medication for improved health and wellness. … 78% of those using cannabis for health and wellness are above the age of 25. … 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.”



As one survey respondent wrote: “Without cannabis I would not be able to sleep at night peacefully, my migraines would overwhelm my daily life, and I would not be able to function.”

HelloMD enables online medical consultations for marijuana recommendations, as well as treatment information and advice.

Common Indications, Effective Medication
HelloMD found the most common indications for medical marijuana included chronic pain, anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

click to enlarge HELLOMD
  • HelloMD


Indications were diverse and ranged from very serious to everyday health and wellness concerns.

“Almost without exception the experience is overwhelmingly positive, with 85% reporting significant efficacy for treating their medical concerns, 77% stating that it “enhances their mood in a positive way.” 65% of people using cannabis consider it to be the primary treatment of choice for their condition, with many choosing to forgo other treatments, including prescription medications."

“Respondents reported beneficial side effects of relaxation, mood elevation, better sleep, a replacement for the use of alcohol or as a libido or sexual enhancement.”

“Almost all users (76%) reported using cannabis for relaxation, and 65% for use as a sleep aid. 96% of users report that cannabis enhances their mood in a positive way, with 77% strongly agreeing.”

“79% of people agree that cannabis makes them feel sleepy, yet only 21% feel that it demotivates them, 85% of people feel that cannabis use enhances their creativity, Women are slightly more likely than men to use cannabis as a libido enhancer (8% vs 5%), Men are more likely to use cannabis as an alcohol replacement (10% vs 6.5%).”

“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.”

“I’m pain free for the first time in twenty years. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” said one respondent. The survey online survey canvassed patients ages 18 to 80 with a 31-question, binary- or multiple-choice-answer questionnaire. A text box allowed for comments.

Strains are Real
Contrary to what critics say, the fact that different cannabis strains seem to have different effects isn’t some mass hallucination.

“86% of people agree that different strains create different feelings and effects, with 70% having found a favored strain that they turn to regularly. This is clearly therefore not just a tactic by producers to sell more products. We see a need for more research in this area, to produce repeatable, consistent results with patients as some strains clearly achieve more reliable results for different medical conditions.”
Inexact Science
That said, almost one in three respondents don’t know the dosage they typically consume, in milligrams.

Gender, Age Gaps
Women and older people tilted toward tinctures and topical creams, while the guys preferred smoking and vaping. … “Middle aged and elderly were more directed to pain management, while younger age groups are treating stress, anxiety, mental-health disorders, nausea and issues with appetite.”

Hook-Ups
Delivery services are nearly as popular as dispensaries, while one in five medical pot sales come from the black market.

“Cannabis use has been extremely beneficial to me. It has helped me quit drinking and keep my diet in check. I do not like to take pills and have had problems with sleeping pill addiction. Cannabis provides me with better relief from insomnia and pain without the side effects of pills,” wrote one respondent.

Cost
“72% of people spend at least $600 each year on cannabis products, with 22% spending at least $1,800 each year. Medical marijuana would appear to represent a significant potential savings to consumers over traditional pharmaceuticals.”

“I’m a disabled veteran with PTSD. Cannabis is what keeps me alive. Nothing else works. Nothing,” wrote a respondent.

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