Limited use of medicinal cannabis but for labeled indications after legalization

Since September 2003, cannabis is available for medicinal purposes in Dutch pharmacies to. It was anticipated that the medicinal cannabis use via illegal ways would decrease. The objective of this study was to get insight in the use of medicinal canabis in daily practise as dispensed by community pharmacies and to characterize the users as well as the symptoms and conditions cannabis is prescribed for.A prospective follow-up study among 200 patients who filled a prescription for medicinal cannabiswas performed in the period between September 2003 and January 2004. The patients filled out a structured questionnaire concerning symptoms and conditions and their experience with cannabis. Of all patients, 42% suffered from multiple sclerosis, 11% suffered from rheumatic diseases, and 60% of respondents already used cannabis before the legalization. Cannabis was mainly used for chronic pain and muscle cramp/stiffness.The indication of medicinal cannabis use was in accordance with the labeled indications. However, more than 80% of the patients still obtained cannabis for medicinal purpose from the illegal circuit. Because of the higher prices in pharmacies, ongoing debate on the unproven effectiveness of the drug and the hesitation by physicians to prescribe cannabis. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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