Cannabis legalization.

Advantages and disadvantages in the context of Parkinson's

A contribution by Jürgen Zender


The discussion about the use of medical cannabis to treat various diseases has increased worldwide in recent years. The potential of cannabis-based therapies is being intensively researched, particularly for Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disease that affects millions of people. The table summary below provides an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of using medical cannabis for Parkinson's disease, based on current research and patient reports.

This discussion takes place against the background of significant legal developments in Germany, where a change in the law to legalize cannabis for medical purposes is pending in the near future. This change could significantly increase access to cannabis-based therapies for patients with Parkinson's and other diseases and is consistent with a global trend toward recognizing the medical benefits of cannabis. The change in the law reflects a growing understanding and acceptance of the potential therapeutic uses of cannabis within the medical community and society at large.

It is important to emphasize that despite cannabis' potential to relieve certain symptoms of Parkinson's disease, further research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness and safety. The upcoming legal change in Germany could also help to promote research in this area by simplifying scientific access to cannabis for study purposes.

Recent efforts and studies have highlighted the potential and growing interest in using medical cannabis to treat Parkinson's disease (PD) symptoms. A company called Day Three Labs (DTL), backed by CanNegev, an Israeli government-sponsored cannabis innovation incubator, is working to develop "consistent, reliable and repeatable" cannabis-based therapies for Parkinson's. The goal is to identify the exact combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes, the active ingredients in cannabis, that could effectively relieve symptoms of PK. This initiative, called Unlokt, seeks to improve the delivery of these compounds into the bloodstream and potentially offers a new therapeutic avenue for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Observational studies and systematic reviews have shed light on the effects of cannabis on symptoms of Parkinson's disease. One study reported improvements in motor symptoms such as tremor, stiffness, and bradykinesia, as well as non-motor symptoms such as sleep and pain, after consuming cannabis. Despite these promising results, there is consensus in the scientific community that larger, controlled studies are needed to confirm these results and fully understand the potential of cannabis in PK treatment​​.

Surveys have shown high interest among PK patients in exploring medical cannabis as a treatment option, with many reporting positive effects. However, many patients have not tried cannabis due to lack of knowledge and fear of side effects. In Germany, after medical cannabis was legalized for treatment-resistant symptoms, a survey showed that Parkinson's patients reported positive effects from using cannabis, particularly in... Pain and muscle cramps. Despite these positive patient reports, the need for more clinical data and rigorous scientific studies to understand the best use cases and delivery methods of cannabis for PK remains a major concern among healthcare professionals​​.

Additionally, a Parkinson's Foundation survey found that nearly 25% of PK patients in the US have used cannabis in the past six months, primarily to relieve symptoms such as pain, anxiety, sleep problems, tremors and stiffness. However, the majority of these users had not consulted a licensed physician or provider for a cannabis recommendation, highlighting the need for more informed guidance and research on cannabis use in PK treatment​​.

These developments suggest a cautiously optimistic view of cannabis as a potential treatment for symptoms of Parkinson's disease, with ongoing research aimed at unlocking its full therapeutic potential.

Advantages (Pro) Disadvantages (Cons)
Improvement of motor symptoms: Observational studies show improvements in tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia after cannabis consumption. Lack of large, controlled studies: There is an urgent need for larger and controlled studies​​.
Relief of non-motor symptoms: Patients report improved sleep and pain relief​​. Fear of side effects: Many patients are hesitant to try cannabis for fear of possible side effects.
High patient interest: A majority of patients are interested in exploring medical cannabis as a treatment option​​. Legal and clinical uncertainties: Despite legalization in some countries, many questions regarding use and administration remain unanswered​​.
Innovative therapeutic approaches: Initiatives like Unlokt aim to optimize the delivery of cannabinoids and terpenes to develop effective therapies​​. Lack of recommendations from medical professionals: Many users do not have a recommendation from a licensed doctor or provider​​.
Potentially positive effects reported: Users report benefits in treating pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, tremors and stiffness​​. Lack of scientific evidence: A major reason for non-users is the lack of evidence on the effectiveness of cannabis​​.


Jürgen Zender in March 2024

Stay tuned.


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Cannabis legalization and Parkinson's disease. Advantages and disadvantages
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