“Legalization of the medical use of cannabis for Parkinson’s disease (PD) has bypassed the traditional drug-approval process, leaving physicians with little evidence with which to guide patients.
The goal of this study was to gather data on the cannabis-related prescribing practices and views regarding potential risks and benefits of cannabis among experts caring for patients with PD.
An anonymous, 73-item online survey was conducted through an online service (SurveyMonkey) and included neurologists at all National Parkinson Foundation Centers of Excellence.
Fifty-six responders represented centers across 5 countries and 14 states. 23% reported some formal education on cannabis. Eighty percent of responders had patients with PD who used cannabis, and 95% were asked to prescribe it. Fifty-two percent took a neutral position on cannabis use with their patients, 9% discouraged use, and 39% encouraged it. Most believed that the literature supported use of cannabis for nausea (87%; n = 48), anxiety (60%; n = 33), and pain (86%; n = 47), but responses were divided with regard to motor symptoms. Most respondents expected that cannabis would worsen motivation (59%; n = 32), sleepiness (60%; n = 31), and hallucinations (69%; n = 37). In addition, most feared negative effects on short-term memory (75%; n = 42), long-term memory (55%; n = 31), executive functioning (79%; n = 44), and driving (96%; n = 54). Although many did not believe that cannabis should be recreational (50%; n = 28), most believed that it should be legalized for medicinal purposes (69.6%; n = 39).
This study provides data on the cannabis-related practices, beliefs, and attitudes of expert PD physicians. There is a lack of consensus that likely reflects a general knowledge gap and paucity of data to guide clinical practice.”