SEP 07, 2022 8:00 AM PDT

Patient Preferences Include a Diverse Range of Cannabis Products

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

An analysis of point-of-sale data from nearly 17,000 New York medical cannabis patients revealed significant product variation and THC variability. The study published in the JAMA Network Online is one of the first studies of medical cannabis patient preference. It revealed that patients with the same health condition use a wide range of products to manage their symptoms.

The researchers analyzed medical cannabis sales data for more than 80,000 purchases made between 2016 and 2019. New York State regulations did not approve cannabis flower and edibles for the medical cannabis market until 2021, so data only reflects purchases of vape cartridges and pens, capsules, tinctures, lotions, and suppositories.  

The data showed the top three conditions included chronic pain (52%), neuropathy (22%) and cancer (13%). New York requires that patients need approval for a qualifying symptom. The top qualifying symptoms included severe pain (82%), severe muscle spasms (21%) and severe nausea (8%). The most commonly purchased products included vaporizers (40%), tinctures (38%) and tablets (22%).

As more states legalize medical and/or recreational use cannabis, consumers are trying different modes of consumption as well as products made from different strains. Cannabis product demand reveals that medical cannabis patients and recreational users seek a variety of strains for various effects, and they are increasingly trying various products such as edibles, beverages, topical patches, metered dose inhalers and concentrates. 

Research on patient purchasing behavior is limited, but an increasing number of states are considering potency ranges, dosing guidelines and other market regulations. Postdoctoral research fellow Alexandra Kritikos explained that the study revealed a significant need for effective dosing practices: “Unfortunately, our analysis suggests that patients may not be getting consistent guidance from clinicians and pharmacists and, in many disease areas, there seems to be a lack of clear clinical data on appropriate dosing.” Future research will lead to improvements in production, regulation, and patient use.

New York has one of the largest medical cannabis programs with over 150,000 participants. Like many states with newly formed medical and recreational markets, New York and other states do not have an established system of policy guidance on THC potency, cannabis product diversity and variability, so more studies like this one are needed to inform health policy.  

Sources: 

Eureka News Alert, JAMA Network Open, University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics 

 

About the Author
BA and MA in English, MPS in Human Relations, and Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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