Is medical marijuana effective for cancer patients?


I am a nurse in a state where marijuana is not leagal for any reason medical or otherwise.

I am not a big fan of drugs and alcohol but am open to anything that will help chemo recipients cope and survive.

I work in an outpatient chemo clinic and see a lot of patients who are having trouble with taste changes, loss of appetitie, and nausea and vomitting.

I have heard for a long time that marijuana can be very helpful to keep up the appetite and help prevent extreme weightloss.

Is there any one out there who has witnessed marijuana use in onc patients?

Pro's/ Con's?

Is there a big difference between marijuana and marinol?

tewdles, RN

3,156 Posts

Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice. Has 31 years experience.

My experience with oncologic hospice patients and medical marijuana vs marinol is this...

The marijuana is often most effective for them when they use either a vaporizer or consume it. Smoking it often exacerbates any stomatitis or taste changes they may have. They tell me it works good for nausea and improves their appetite much better than the marinol...and it works faster. I have had several patients indicate that it helps with visceral and somatic pain without the constipation or nausea SEs of opiates. An older guy did tell me though that he couldn't use the marijuana if someone was visiting or if he was going somewhere because it made him loopier than the One patient told me that it also helped her with her anxiety.

Even though it may be physician ordered and legal in the state, insurance companies seldom pay for this medication.


34 Posts

Has 15 years experience.

Im really interested in the use of medical marijuana specially for our oncology patients. NJ Governor Christie just signed the bill last Jan of 2011. Though there are still a lot of questions to be answered from production, distribution, dispensing and prescribing. I would love to put up my own dispensary.


349 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg/Neuro/Oncology floor nursing.. Has 10 years experience.

I Live in NY and sadly medical marijuana isn't legal. Not only would it benefit oncology patients, it also helps chronic pain patients, glaucoma and so on. When my dad had pancreatic cancer we could care less about the laws, we got him the marijuana, only thing with him is that the cancer had spread to his lungs and it wasn't able to smoke it(he would cough for hours after one hit. So we actually made marijuana brownies(when he was still able to eat, when he was end stage he didn't eat a thing) and he actually LOVED brownies. It too FOREVER to get make the brownies(you have to take butter or oil and cook out the THC from the marijuana and that alone took two hours but it was worth every second). Anyway when we made it right it worked wonders for him, it increased his appetite and his stomach didn't ache as much as it did. There are MANY ways to get marijuana into a persons system it's just finding the right way to do it for each person. When my dad was during his final days my brother tried smoking it so my dad could get a "contact high" but it didn't work, the smoke bothered him so much so we just loaded him up with pain medication(as prescribed of course). So yes marijuana does in deed work for pain, nausea and other medical problems.

tewdles, RN

3,156 Posts

Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice. Has 31 years experience.

I am now a cancer and chemo patient myself, and does work for pain AND nausea.


446 Posts

it works for some people ....for others it doesnt

I remember one patient's family made marijuana brownies and shared it with another patient for his nausea...i think it worked for him.

I remember helping to fill out an application for medical legal use of marijuana for a leukemia patient but they were only allowed to buy it from federally approved sources.

The patient told me the approved marijuana was of such low grade that buying it off the street was a better option