The therapeutic potential of cannabis

Lancet Neurol. 2003 May;2(5):291-8. doi: 10.1016/s1474-4422(03)00381-8.


Research of the cannabinoid system has many similarities with that of the opioid system. In both instances, studies into drug-producing plants led to the discovery of an endogenous control system with a central role in neurobiology. Few compounds have had as much positive press from patients as those of the cannabinoid system. While these claims are investigated in disorders such as multiple sclerosis spasticity and pain, basic research is discovering interesting members of this family of compounds that have previously unknown qualities, the most notable of which is the capacity for neuroprotection. Large randomised clinical trials of the better known compounds are in progress. Even if the results of these studies are not as positive as many expect them to be, that we are only just beginning to appreciate the huge therapeutic potential of this family of compounds is clear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoids / chemistry
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabis*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / drug effects
  • Receptors, Drug / physiology
  • Spasm / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Diseases / drug therapy


  • Cannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug