Patients, Survivors Share Perspectives on Cannabis During Cancer


We asked our audience of patients and survivors about their thoughts on the use of cannabis during cancer. Here’s what they had to say.

Marijuana coming out of a pill bottle and on to a prescription pad

A recent #CUREConnect question on social media got patients and survivors of cancer talking about cannabis during cancer care.

Regardless of cancer type, many patients and survivors deal with side effects not only associated with their cancer but also from their treatments, which, for some, lead to the use of cannabis.

Common side effects patients experience may include nausea, pain and poor quality of sleep. However, a study from the journal Cancer determined that the use of non-inhaled cannabis may offer a small benefit for pain relief and showed a very small benefit on physical functioning and quality of sleep.

A recent #CUREConnect post asked our audience, “What are your thoughts on cannabis use during cancer?” Here is what our readers had to say.

Cannabis Helped With Side Effects

“Helps me deal with the chemo and radiation… [I’m] all for it.” — Mike F.

“The best, safest symptom/side-effect management system I’ve used.” — Patrick K.

“Does help keep me in the positive.” — Gina S.

“I used it with CBD for pain.” — Tracy A.

“It would be great if there were A) better guidelines on what to take for what type of cancer. B) more regulation globally as some of us don’t have access to well-regulated, good-quality CBD.” — Gimi

Improved Appetite and Sleep

“I think it helps. If it helps. Regardless [of] what that is… Sleeping or increasing appetite or anxiety. I know I had all three going through my healing journey.” — Lisa B.

“I take it every night to sleep and to help with nausea during chemo. It’s much better than nausea meds.” — Francesca P.

“Needed! I’m so glad medical marijuana is legal now in my state (it was not when I received treatment in 2004). It helps me sleep and honestly, sometimes it’s just good to relax and stop worrying about all the crap you have to [deal] with! Love [the] gummies.” — Barb D.

Infographic of a green background and a note pad.

Many readers agreed that cannabis use helped with nausea, appetite and sleep.

“Yes. Of course. Small amounts not smoked are a life saver for nausea and appetite and rest.” — Ingrid K.

READ MORE: Patients Should ‘Have the Conversation’ About Cannabis With Care Teams

Some Use Cannabis in Place of Opioids

“I’m a seven-year endometrial adenocarcinoma survivor! I hated opioid pain pills, a BIG YES that they should allow cannabis during treatments!” — Mary Lynn M.

“Absolutely. It seems it’s OK to prescribe opiate-derived drugs that we all know are addictive, but cannabis is too controversial?” — Paul B.

READ MORE: Researchers Call for Education About Cannabis Use for Cancer Survivors

Cannabis Could Affect Job Status

“It isn’t allowed as a federal government employee. I would be fired from my job.” — Tamera A., breast cancer survivor and CURE® blogger.

For patients who are curious about the use of cannabis during cancer, an expert spoke with CURE® about the need for communication between patients and their care teams regarding cannabis use during treatment before doing so.

Dr. Brooke Worster, a professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and enterprise director of supportive oncology at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, emphasized that regular use of high-CBD cannabis could have a negative effect on patients receiving immunotherapy.

“That has a direct connection to your immune system, the targets of the endocannabinoid system interact with your immune system,” she said. “And so, it also matters [for providers] to say 'Listen, we don't know, but we are seeing a signal here, and so I would caution you from using this every day.' And there aren't many instances where I think that's a concern, but it goes both directions. So just have the conversation.”

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

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