Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Sunday, October 21, 2018

BOWLIN: Medical Marijuana May Help Those with Multiple Sclerosis

In an article in Medical Xpress, HealthDay News reporter Dennis Thompson discusses the possible benefits of using medical marijuana to quell multiple sclerosis symptoms.


The impetus for the article was a major new evidence review of cannabis-derived drugs. The review combined seventeen clinical trials involving 3,161 patients. Based on patient self-assessments, researchers found that cannabis-derived drugs were associated with a mild reduction in muscle contractions, bladder dysfunction, and pain.    

Multiple sclerosis, a progressive and degenerative disease in which the immune system attacks nerves, produces a variety of symptoms, including muscle contractions. Thus, trial researchers concluded that cannabis-derived drugs could have "limited effectiveness in treating multiple sclerosis symptoms."

"The clinical trials also showed that cannabis-derived drugs come with few side effects, [but] no serious ones," noted Dr. Marissa Slaven, an assistant professor of palliative care at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Side effects included dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, intoxication, impaired balance, memory problems and sleepiness.

However, patients' self-reports differed from the results of objective tests used by doctors in the trials. Doctors could not find any objective evidence to confirm self-reports that medical marijuana soothed symptoms typical of multiple sclerosis. This is troubling according to Nicholas LaRocca, vice president of healthcare delivery and policy research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, "There's really relatively little data that's strong. I think that discourages practitioners from feeling comfortable about recommending this . . . ." 

Thus, while the results from the new evidence review are unclear, "the upshot . . . is that more research is needed to nail down medical marijuana's ability to help those with multiple sclerosis." Unfortunately, Thompson notes that research on medial marijuana has been stymied in the United States due to federal restrictions. 

--Emily Bowlin

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This article points out what I think is one of the biggest issues with the illegality of marijuana on the federal level--the difficulty it poses to conduct medical research. It's unfortunate that something with the capacity to offer great relief to those suffering from a variety of ailments is largely estopped by the current federal regulations/CSA. Personally, I feel that more developed research on the medicinal effects of marijuana could dramatically decrease our country's opioid epidemic.

Posted by: Gabrielle Rennie | Oct 29, 2018 10:54:05 AM

I completely agree. How can we get marijuana off schedule I without properly conducted research? Unfortunately, the issue is acutely political and until that changes or Democrats become controlling, I am not sure what the future for federally regulated marijuana looks like.

Posted by: Emily Bowlin | Oct 29, 2018 12:08:20 PM

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