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Are you unsure about using cannabis products while undergoing cancer treatment? There is so much information out there and strong opinions on all sides, it can be a confusing proposition.  Read on as we sort through the highlights of your options and what is involved with adding cannabis to a wellness-focused cancer treatment program.  

Definitions and Details

Any time you’re learning about something new, you’re bound to stumble onto some terms and phrases you haven’t encountered before. Medical cannabis and cannabis products cover a broad range of subjects, and there is a lot to learn about the industry.  

Chances are, you might be familiar with common references to cannabis, but you’ll probably be surprised by some of the terminologies as you start digging in. With that in mind, take some time to acquaint yourself with the language, such as “adapters,” “pheno hunting,” and “distillate” — all the things you might come across as you learn about different products.    

Learn Legalities

Words and phrases aren’t the only things worth exploring as you consider what, if any, cannabis products should be part of your cancer treatment program. You should also weigh legal restrictions into your decision. A little research will tell you how limited your choices are. For example, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, and each state has its own set of restrictions. In some states, medical marijuana is not legal but CBD oil is.  


CBD oil is widely available, and there appear to be several benefits cancer patients can gain from adding it to their treatment plan. For instance, CBD appears to reduce pain and inflammation, and it can help with sleep issues and anxiety. That said, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points out that there is minimal clinical research available on CBD products.  

Keep in mind that patients can also experience side effects, such as diarrhea, infection, fatigue, and reduced appetite. Those with compromised livers are particularly cautioned since CBD might be linked with an increase in liver enzymes.  


As Everyday Health explains, there are several therapeutic effects cancer patients can receive from including medical marijuana in their treatment programs. It can potentially help to reduce pain, increase appetite, reduce nausea, and lift your mood. On the other hand, using medical marijuana can increase your risk for a heart attack, reduce your coordination, increase your risk for bronchitis, and increase your risk for certain mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia.  

Medical marijuana can also be consumed in a variety of ways. It can be smoked, vaped, applied as a balm, eaten, sprayed on, or absorbed through a patch.  


Dronabinal, also known as Marinol, is a prescription medication available for the control of nausea, loss of appetite, pain, and vomiting. Sometimes, people nickname it things like the “pot pill” because it contains a synthetic version of THC. Verywell Health points out that one of the positive things about Dronabinal is that it is legal in all 50 states, so long as you have a prescription from your doctor. It is also convenient to take because it can be administered in pill form. There are possible side effects, such as nausea, and Dronabinol can make you feel high. It also can take longer to kick in than other options.

Dronabinal is an FDA-approved drug. This confuses many people, as they assume that means the drug is tested by the government and proven safe. Actually, the agency reviews clinical data to determine if the potential benefits outweigh the known risks associated with the drug.  


When you’re facing cancer, you want every possible advantage you can find.  That may or may not include cannabis products, especially if there are drug interactions or side effects that could interfere with your treatment plan. As with any supplement or therapy you’re considering, talk with your doctor before you add it to your regimen.  

Cannabis products appear to offer both risks and gains to cancer patients. Weigh your personal circumstances carefully before adding anything to your treatment plan. You want every tool at your disposal, and that might or might not include cannabis.  

Hematology Oncology

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