Early results from the QUEST Initiative suggest medicinal cannabis improved the health and quality of life of patients during the first three months of treatment.

QUEST followed 2,327 Australian patients prescribed medicinal cannabis between November 2020 and December 2021. Aged between 18 and 97 (average age 51), they were recruited across six states by 120 independent doctors.

The most commonly treated conditions among the cohort were chronic pain (69%), sleep disorders (23%), anxiety (22%) and anxiety/depression (11%). Half were being treated for more than one condition.

Participants completed a questionnaire before the study, and were surveyed again after two weeks, then every one-to-two months for up to a year.

The QUEST Initiative was named named Cannabiz R&D Project of the Year in June.

Published in the journal PLOS ONE, results showed self-reported improvements in the patients’ health-related quality of life and fatigue across all assessed conditions over the first three months of treatment.

Anxiety, depression and pain also improved over time, although there was no overall improvement for patients with sleep disorders. 

The research team did not measure adverse effects, but 30 patients withdrew due to “unwanted side effects”. 

They concluded: “We observed statistically significant, clinically meaningful improvements in overall health-related quality of life and fatigue over the first three months in patients with chronic health conditions accessing prescribed medical cannabis. 

“Anxiety, depression and pain also improved over time, particularly for those with corresponding health conditions.” 

The study will continue to follow up patients until 12 months to determine whether improvements are maintained in the long-term.

Dr Jamie Rickcord - Medical Cannabis Australia - Cannabiz
Dr Jamie Rickcord

Ananda Clinics medical director Dr Jamie Rickcord, who was involved in QUEST, said the results “show that medicinal cannabis provides statistically, and more importantly, clinically significant improvements in pain levels, fatigue and quality of life for patients”.

He added: “Doctors can have confidence in offering medicinal cannabis treatment as an option to those who qualify for it as result of emerging real-world data provided by initiatives such as QUEST.”

Led by the University of Sydney in conjunction with Little Green Pharma (LGP), the longitudinal study was named Cannabiz R&D Project of the Year in June.

Curtin University, LGP and the Health Insurance Fund of Australia have now joined forces to launch QUEST Global, following the success of the original project.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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