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Cancer Patients Get Little Guidance From Doctors On Using Medical Marijuana

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Medical marijuana

Even three queasy pregnancies didn't prepare Kate Murphy for the nonstop nausea that often comes with chemotherapy.

In the early months of 2016, the Lexington, Mass., mother tried everything the doctors and nurses suggested. "But for the most part I felt nauseous 24/7," she said.

Murphy, then 49 and fighting breast cancer, dropped 15 pounds from her already slim frame in just two months. Then, she remembered what a fellow cancer patient had advised while she was waiting for her first dose of chemo: "Make sure you get some medical marijuana."

Scientific research, mostly in animals, supports the idea that cannabis can effectively treat the nausea of cancer therapy, in addition to some types of cancer-related pain, according to the National Cancer Institute's cannabis information page.

And roughly a quarter of cancer patients use cannabis in Washington state, where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, a study from September found.

In Massachusetts, medical marijuana has been legal for six years, but it's still a challenge for cancer patients to get a state-issued medical marijuana ID card, or then figure out what kind of cannabis to use.

"I was flabbergasted that there was no real resource A, B and C, and 'here's how you do it,' " Murphy said. "What I liken it to is, 'you need chemo, now go figure it out.' "

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