Parkinson Disease & Marijuana

January 9, 2017

In 2016, Health Canada announced the new "Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation" (ACMPR).  This regulation allows for reasonable access to cannabis (marijuana) for medical purposes for Canadians who have been authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes by their health care practitioner.  Since then the media attention, video and blog posts that have followed has many people wondering about it's effects for people with Parkinson disease.

The Facts:

  • Clinical studies have not clearly supported the use of marijuana for Parkinson's

  •  Clinical studies that have been conducted thus far have not adhered to the use of clinical trial "gold standards" ie: no proper control group and/or small numbers of participants (one study only had five participants).  Without this "gold standard" most doctors do not support current study results as they do not meet minimum research standards.

  • Cognitive impairment is a significant non-motor symptom of Parkinson disease and there are compounds that can exist in marijuana that may cause significant changes in perception, mood and behavior.  This aspect is troubling for many health professionals.

 

"We regularly get asked about medical marijuana; as there is no research on it, we cannot recommend it.  Also, it may have significant cognitive effects in PD patients."

- Dr. Oksana Suchowersky, MD, FRCPC, FCCMG

 

"There is no research confirming that this has more positive benefits for PD versus side effects due to cognitive concerns; therefore, our clinic does not advocate for its use."

- Dr. Janis Miyasaki, MD, MEd, FRCPC, FAAN

 

The crux of the matter is that further research is needed to better understand both the potential positive and negative affects of marijuana on those with Parkinson disease.

 

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