Medical cannabis and cannabinoids in raw or dried flowers, oils, capsules, powders, edibles, and topicals may reduce pain, and some evidence shows benefit with nausea, vomiting, and sleep, but little evidence of improving treatment outcomes.

Affordability and access

Although authorized medical cannabis use has become accepted and normalized in many places, cannabis and its cannabinoids are still listed as Schedule 1 controlled substances under federal law, officially considered “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”1United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling. United States Department of Justice. Viewed October 9, 2021.

Because federal law regulating cannabis supersedes state law, people may still be subject to arrest and charged with possession even in states where medical cannabis is permitted.2Mayo Clinic. Consumer health: Medical marijuana. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. November 27, 2019. Viewed October 9, 2021. However, a federal amendment which protects medical cannabis patients and businesses from prosecution in states where it is legal has been included in every federal spending bill since 2014.3Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. JD Supra, LLC. October 9, 2021. Viewed October 9, 2021.

Prescription required?

  • Yes, in many places, but not in others

Other names and brands

You may find cannabis and cannabinoids under these brand names: 

  • Cannabis indica
  • Cannabis ruderalis
  • Cannabis sativa L
  • CBD
  • Dronabinol (brand name Marinol)
  • Hemp
  • Medical marijuana
  • Nabilone (brand name Cesamet)
  • Nabiximols (brand name Sativex)
  • THC

Where to access

  • In states and places where cannabis is decriminalized, cannabis retail stores are available.
  • CBD oils, edibles, capsules, concentrates and topicals are available through online retail sites. 

Affordability 

  • Moderately expensive (more than $2000 US/year but less than $20,000 US); cost depends on dose and frequency of use

Resources

Keep reading about cannabis and cannabinoids

Authors

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Reviewer

Teresa Martin

Integrative patient advocate
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Teresa Martin, founder of Options Patient Advocacy, is an integrative patient advocate that helps patients find specialists and integrative healthcare professionals close to where they live. Scientifically educated, and passionate about patient-centered care, Teresa’s focus areas include integrative oncology, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and condition-specific applications of medical cannabis.

Teresa Martin Integrative patient advocate

Last update: October 24, 2022

Last full literature review: October 2021

We are grateful to integrative oncologist and CancerChoices advisor Donald Abrams, MD, for his generous sharing of research articles and commentary.

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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