It’s a known fact: Cannabis can help soothe illness. A new study out Tuesday finally sheds some light on the different types of buds people of varying illnesses seek.
The team from New York University’s School of Health discovered that patients with cancer preferred cannabis strains high in THC. THC is what induces that euphoric “high” feeling stoners know and love, but it also helps reduce nausea and pain some cancer patients suffer from due to their chemo treatment, according to the American Cancer Society.
Published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, the new study looked at the different preferences between patients with cancer and patients without. It uses data from more than 11,000 people in New York who purchased their pot from a single dispensary, Columbia Care LLC., between January 2016 and December 2017. A little over 17 percent of the sample was cancer patients who purchased and used cannabis.
However, the two-year study also looked at other types of patients—like those with epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Turns out they tend to be into a different cannabis compound: CBD. This compound can help with anxiety and help treat seizures, per the American Cancer Society. No wonder some of the non-cancer patients took a liking to strains higher in CBD. The authors also found during this research that all types of patients increased the levels of THC in their cannabis purchases by 0.20 milligrams a week.
“Our study provides valuable new information about how cancer patients are using marijuana,” said study senior investigator Benjamin Han, an assistant professor of medicine and population health at NYU School of Medicine, in a press release. “In the absence of strong clinical research data for medical marijuana, identifying patterns of use offers some sense of how to guide patients who come in with questions for using medical marijuana and what may or may not help them.”
The study didn’t take a look only at the different types of cannabis; it also took a look at the different forms of consuming it. Interestingly enough, cancer patients liked to take their cannabis orally—through oil they could drop beneath their tongue. Vaping? Not so much, according to the study.
Still, the paper is not without its limitations. The study authors didn’t ask participants for specifics, like the type of cancer patients had or how much of their purchase they actually consumed. Such questions could help them determine whether the weed was meant to help improve their health or for, well, fun. But despite the study’s shortcomings, the researchers saw a strong enough pattern between cancer patients and non-cancer patients to call it out.
“Although there is growing patient interest in medical cannabis, there is a scarcity of solid evidence about the benefits, risks and patterns of use of marijuana products in various disease settings,” says study lead investigator Arum Kim, an assistant professor of medicine and rehabilitation medicine at NYU School of Medicine, in a press release. “Such information is important for delivering the best care.”
While this latest study reminds the public of how useful the plant can be to those with chronic illness, another study released Monday showed that cannabis-related emergency room visits jumped three-fold in Colorado after the drug was legalized. Weed definitely isn’t for everybody.