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Illinois Sees Surge in Medical Marijuana Patients

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Cancer patients in Illinois seem to be more interested in medical marijuana. Requests for information have steadily increased. Within the last year, the state has seen the number of applications for medical marijuana cards increase significantly as well.

The Illinois patients are looking to medical marijuana for relief during and after their cancer treatments, according to The Pantagraph. Medical marijuana has helped reduce some of the symptoms associated with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. It has also helped some reduce pain and symptoms following surgery.

For some, relief from simple side effects like anxiety and insomnia following a cancer diagnosis has also been noted.

At the end of September 2017, the state reports having about 24,000 registered medical marijuana patients. One year later, that total has risen to 44,000 patients.

Regarding patient inquiries, research professor and nurse Judith Paice said, “It exploded with the first announcements.”

When discussing medical marijuana with her patients, Paice says she discusses three different consumption options – inhalation, oral and topical. In her experience, most of her patients prefer to use edibles. Some worry about damaging their lungs from smoking marijuana.

Paice said, “People may use a piece of candy and not feel anything; they’ll take another piece and still not feel anything, and then a third piece, and they’re really having confusion and cognitive impairment.”

Angie Fekrat of The Lynn Sage Foundation said, “Our ultimate goal is to improve outcomes for anyone diagnosed with the disease, including easing pain from treatment.”

The Lynn Sage Foundation has recently partnered with Green Thumb Industries to work on furthering research regarding breast cancer. The group is also working to determine early detection methods, prevention and better treatment of breast cancer.

Regarding the efficacy of medical marijuana for breast cancer patients, Paice said, “Women going through breast cancer treatment do experience symptoms, sleeplessness, they may experience hot flashes, which then make sleep more challenging. Nausea is a considerable symptom that we can usually get under control with the available anti-nausea medication, but not always. Anxiety is prevalent with breast cancer and all cancers.”

Paice also commented that medical marijuana may not be the right choice for all patients. She helps guide them as far as safety after use is concerned and how to use some of the different delivery methods.

She said, “Many of our patients have tried the various cannabis products. Many report some benefit, and others have decided they did not like the cognitive impairment that went along with it.”

Easing accessibility in Illinois has helped the state’s medical marijuana patient base grow exponentially in just a year’s time.