A Survey of Cannabis Use in a Large US-Based Cohort of People with Multiple Sclerosis

Amber Salter, Robert J. Fox, Gary Cutter, Ruth Ann Marrie, Kate E. Nichol, Joshua R. Steinerman, Karry M.J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: As cannabis products become increasingly accessible across the United States, it is important to understand the contemporary use of cannabis for managing multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. Methods: We invited participants with MS from the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) Registry (aged 18 years or older) to complete a supplemental survey on cannabis use between March and April 2020. Participants reported cannabis use, treated symptoms, patterns, preferences, methods of use, and the factors limiting use. Findings are reported using descriptive statistics. Results: Of the 6934 participants invited, 3249 responded. Of the respondents, 31% reported having ever used cannabis to treat MS symptoms, with 20% currently using cannabis. The remaining 69% had never used cannabis for MS symptoms, for reasons including not enough data about efficacy (40%) and safety (27%), and concerns about legality (25%) and cost (18%). The most common symptoms current users were attempting to treat were spasticity (80%), pain (69%), and sleep problems (61%). Ever users (vs never users) were more likely to be younger, be non-White, have lower education, reside in the Northeast and West, be unemployed, be younger at symptom onset, be currently smoking, and have higher levels of disability and MS-related symptoms (all P < .001). Conclusions: Despite concerns about insufficient safety and efficacy data, legality, and cost, almost one-third of NARCOMS Registry respondents report having tried nonprescription cannabis products in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. Given the lack of efficacy and safety data on such products, future research in this area is warranted. Int J MS Care. 2021;23:245-252.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'A Survey of Cannabis Use in a Large US-Based Cohort of People with Multiple Sclerosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this