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National Survey Finds Consumers Interested in Medical Cannabis Products for Inflammatory Skin Disorders

Patients with dermatologic conditions are open to trying medical cannabis products (MCPs) as potential treatments, according to a new study from George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) and University of Maryland researchers.
“MCPs, which are cannabis or cannabis-derived products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and/or cannabidiol, known as CBD, are more available now than they ever have been. However, data supporting use and information regarding product quality assurance is limited, particularly when it comes to dermatologic conditions,” explained lead author Samuel Yeroushalmi, a fourth-year MD student at GW SMHS. “We wanted to take a closer look at how patients both feel about and use MCPs as part of their treatment plans.”
Yeroushalmi and the team surveyed more than 500 adult patients on their beliefs and habits related to MCPs. Results showed 17.6% of patients used an over-the-counter (OTC) cannabis product to treat skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis, without a recommendation from a dermatologist. Of the two-thirds of respondents who had seen a dermatologist previously, about 20% had been recommended an OTC product, primarily for acne and psoriasis. Most used OTC products, with only 8% reporting use of an MCP that required a Department of Health-approved card. Importantly, 88.8% of all respondents supported the use of medical cannabis for dermatologic disease. The majority of respondents also reported that they would be willing to try an MCP if recommended by a dermatologist.
“This study spotlights and provides supporting evidence that the skin care consumer is open to and interested in MCPs,” said Adam Friedman, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at GW SMHS. “Consumers and patients are already using MCPs to treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis, even without guidance from a dermatologist. While acceptance was high, there were clear barriers reported limiting use and uptake, such as patient skepticism and a lack of understanding. This mirrors data our group published regarding the dermatology health care practitioner’s perspective and fund of knowledge, underscoring the need for more research and education for both dermatologists and the public. The future should be bright for MCPs; we just need to show and disseminate the science.”
The study, “Consumer Perspectives on and Utilization of Medical Cannabis to Treat Dermatologic Conditions,” appears in the January 2022 issue of Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.