Cannabinoid use among Americans with MS: Current trends and gaps in knowledge

Tiffany J. Braley* (Corresponding Author), Daniel Whibley, Kevin N Alschuler, Dawn Ehde, Ronald D Chervin, Daniel J. Clauw, David Williams, Anna L. Kratz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Up-to-date information regarding the scope and impact of cannabinoid use among persons with MS (PwMS) is necessary to guide clinical practice and cannabinoid research.

Objectives: To assess utilization patterns and perceived impact of cannabinoid use among a national cohort of PwMS.

Methods: Data collected were part of a nationwide survey to characterize pain in PwMS. Items included questions about current/recent cannabinoid use, reasons for use, preferred THC/CBD formulations, and perceived benefits/side effects. PROMIS short-forms assessed symptom severity. Pain phenotype was assessed with the painDETECT questionnaire and FMSurvey Criteria Questionnaires.

Results: Among n = 1,027 respondents, 42% endorsed recent cannabinoid use, of which 18% endorsed healthcare provider guidance regarding use. PROMIS scores (except cognitive abilities), and pain centralization and neuropathic pain scores, were higher among recent/current users (each p < 0.0001). Sleep and pain were the most frequently reported reasons for use. Benefit from cannabinoids for sleep and pain were strongly correlated (r = 0.65, p < 0.0001). For those who expressed a preference for specific THC/CBD ratios, CBD-predominant formulations were favored.

Conclusion: Cannabinoid use is common in PwMS, despite a paucity of provider guidance. The range of perceived benefits, and potential differential effects of THC and CBD, highlight the need for personalized, evidence-based guidelines regarding cannabinoid use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMultiple sclerosis journal
Issue number3
Early online date22 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) provided participant recruitment support. The Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR:NIH award number UL1TR002240) provided participant recruitment support through The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or NMSS. The investigators thank Shubha Kulkarni for her assistance with data collection.


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • cannabinoids
  • cannabis
  • pain
  • insomnia
  • sleep disturbance


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