Document Type


Publication Date



Introduction: Cannabis is listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, meaning the US federal government defines it as an illegal drug that has high potential for abuse and no established medical use; however, half of the states in the nation have enacted “medical marijuana” (MM) laws. Clinicians must be aware of the evidence for and against the use of MM in their patients who may consider using this substance.

Methods: A PubMed database search was performed using the text string: “Cannabis”[Mesh] OR “Marijuana Abuse”[Mesh] OR “Medical Marijuana”[Mesh] OR “Marijuana Smoking”[Mesh] OR “cannabi*” OR “tetrahydrocannabinol.” The search was further limited to randomized clinical trial publications in English on human subjects to identify articles regarding the therapeutic use of phytocannabinoids for psychiatric and neurologic disorders. Commercially available products (ie, dronabinol, nabilone, nabiximols) and synthetic cannabinoids were excluded from the review.

Results: Publications were identified that included patients with dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease, Huntington disease, schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder, depression, tobacco use disorder, and neuropathic pain.

Discussion: There is great variety concerning which medical conditions are approved for treatment with MM for either palliative or therapeutic benefit, depending on the state law. It is important to keep an evidence-based approach in mind, even with substances considered to be illegal under US federal law. Clinicians must weigh risks and benefits of the use of MM in their patients and should ensure that patients have tried other treatment modalities with higher levels of evidence for use when available and appropriate.



© 2017 CPNP. The Mental Health Clinician is a publication of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists. This article can also be viewed on the publisher's webpage:

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Additional Files