Marijuana Use Among Patients With Epilepsy at a Tertiary Care Center

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Epilepsy & Behavior: E&B

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The expansion of medical and recreational marijuana legalization facilitates patient access to cannabis, and many patients with epilepsy pursue marijuana as a treatment for seizures. We administered a nine-item survey on marijuana use to patients seen in an epilepsy clinic over a 9 month period at a tertiary care center in Oregon where recreational use was legalized in 2015. The majority of respondents (n = 39) reported cannabis use for the purpose of treating epilepsy (87.2%, n = 34), and strongly agreed (53.8%, n = 21) or agreed (28.2%, n = 11) that cannabis use improved seizure control. The most commonly selected cannabis strains were high cannabidiol (CBD) (30.8%, n = 12) or multiple types (30.8%, n = 12), with administration methods of smoking (66.7%, n = 26), edibles (48.7%, n = 19), and concentrates (43.6%, n = 17). More participants reported using marijuana with primarily CBD than primarily tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or equal CBD:THC content, and very few women reported using marijuana with primarily THC compared with men (10% of female versus 47% of male respondents). Only 2 of 39 participants were able to give an exact dosage used in milligrams. Medical and recreational dispensaries were the most common cannabis sources, followed by homegrown and friends/family members. Although pharmaceutical CBD extract is now Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for certain epilepsy types, access remains limited. Further research is needed to understand recreational cannabis use among patients with epilepsy while clinical research for pharmaceutical cannabis products continues.


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