Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

Dealing with Side Effects: Can Marijuana Be Beneficial?

Read Transcript Download/Print Transcript

Published on September 24, 2015

What are alternative ways to deal with side effects and pain related to multiple myeloma? Can marijuana benefit patients?  Dr. Lorenzo Cohen and Dr. Robert Orlowski, along with myeloma patient Zoe, discuss this sometimes controversial topic. While marijuana is not yet legal in every state, the experts share what is known about improvement in appetite and pain. Tune in to learn more. 

Featuring

Partners

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Sponsors

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Patient Empowerment Network

You might also like

Transcript | Dealing with Side Effects: Can Marijuana Be Beneficial?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.  

Zoe Garner:

I think I’ve tried just about everything that I can to help with pain or even the effects of after chemo.  And like right now, I feel like I’m dealing with a little bit of chemo brain, because I had chemo yesterday.

But the unorthodox things that I have found that work for me may not be for everybody. And I would like to direct this question to Dr. Cohen.  Have you guys thought about maybe the effects of medical marijuana? Have you done any studies on how it affects the patients and if you think that it would be something that would be a good thing to try? 

Dr. Cohen:           

So I believe medical marijuana is not legal yet in Texas. And I say yet because it’s just a matter of time it’s legalized hopefully in all countries, because there’s a tremendous evidence base on the role of marijuana as a medical strategy for pain, for appetite, for anxiety.

So this is something that should be discussed with a physician. From what I’ve heard from patients, I guess the pharmacological pill version called dronabinol (Marinol), which I believe can be prescribed, doesn’t have quite the same benefit for individuals.  But this is hopefully something that our government will deal with in a better way that they are currently in terms of incorporating marijuana into medical care.

Zoe Garner:         

So then you think it would be beneficial?

Dr. Cohen:           

Specifically pain in multiple myeloma, I don’t know of a study. Pain in general, appetite in general, there’s good support for that. 

Jack Aiello:         

It is legal in California, by the way. And we have had some patients in our support group who have said they have benefited from both with respect to both pain and appetite.

But, again, that’s just a story as opposed to any kind of trial.

Zoe Garner:         

Speaking for myself, I can say, and I know that it is illegal, but it is a tremendous help. Once after chemo, the effects of it aren’t to get high and lazy, because it doesn’t do that. It actually really directs itself to the pain. And I’ve never just felt great after chemo.  But when I’ve tried this, I am sold. And I wish that there would be studies done.

Dr. Orlowski:     

For Marinol, which Dr. Cohen mentioned, that’s available. I’ve used it not infrequently for people more so for appetite because nausea, fortunately, isn’t a very common problem in the chemotherapies that we use for myeloma. 

But I also have patients who have tried marijuana on their own and have gotten good benefits from it. But we probably do need more studies just to be sure that what we prescribe in the future, once it becomes available legally, will be as effective as we hope it will be.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.