Use of Medical Cannabis by Patients With Cancer: Attitudes, Knowledge, and Practice

Tzeela Cohen*, Menachem Ben Ezra, Shirly Yanai, Tal Oren-Azulay, Simon Wein, Yaira Hamama-Raz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Demand for medical cannabis (MC) is growing among Israeli patients with cancer. Objectives: The study sought to assess factors contributing to the demand for MC among patients with cancer. Methods: Patients applying for a permit to receive MC at a pain and palliative clinic of a university-affiliated cancer center in Israel in 2020–2021 were asked to complete self-report questionnaires assessing attitudes, knowledge, and expectations regarding MC use. Findings were compared between first-time and repeat applicants. Repeat applicants were asked to report their indications for requesting MC, patterns of use, and treatment effect. Results: The cohort included 146 patients: 63 first-time applicants and 83 repeat applicants. First-time applicants were more likely to consult sources other than their oncologist for MC-related information (P < 0.01) and expressed more concern about addiction (P < 0.001) and side effects (P < 0.05). They often erroneously assumed the treatment was subsidized (P < 0.001). Repeat applicants were younger (P < 0.05) and included more smokers (P < 0.05) and recreational cannabis users (P < 0.05); 56.6% were cancer survivors and 78% used high-potency MC. Most patients believed to some degree that MC is more effective than conventional medications for symptom control, and over half thought that MC helps to cure cancer. Conclusion: Misconceptions regarding the effectiveness of MC for symptom management and treatment may explain the motivation of patients with cancer to apply for a permit. There seems to be an association of young age, cigarette smoking, and recreational cannabis use with ongoing use of MC among cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-211.e1
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Cannabis
  • cancer
  • chronic pain
  • delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • palliative care
  • self-report


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