An Australian nationwide survey on medicinal cannabis use for epilepsy: History of antiepileptic drug treatment predicts medicinal cannabis use

Epilepsy Behav. 2017 May;70(Pt B):334-340. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.02.005. Epub 2017 Feb 24.


Epilepsy Action Australia conducted an Australian nationwide online survey seeking opinions on and experiences with the use of cannabis-based products for the treatment of epilepsy. The survey was promoted via the Epilepsy Action Australia's main website, on their Facebook page, and by word of mouth. The survey consisted of 39 questions assessing demographics, clinical factors, including diagnosis and seizure types, and experiences with and opinions towards cannabis use in epilepsy. A total of 976 responses met the inclusion criteria. Results show that 15% of adults with epilepsy and 13% of parents/guardians of children with epilepsy were currently using, or had previously used, cannabis products to treat epilepsy. Of those with a history of cannabis product use, 90% of adults and 71% of parents reported success in reducing seizure frequency after commencing cannabis products. The main reasons for medicinal cannabis use were to manage treatment-resistant epilepsy and to obtain a more favorable side-effect profile compared to standard antiepileptic drugs. The number of past antiepileptic drugs tried was a significant predictor of medicinal cannabis use in both adults and children with epilepsy. Fifty-six percent of adults with epilepsy and 62% of parents/guardians of children with epilepsy expressed willingness to participate in clinical trials of cannabinoids. This survey provides insight into the use of cannabis products for epilepsy, in particular some of the likely factors influencing use, as well as novel insights into the experiences of and attitudes towards medicinal cannabis in people with epilepsy in the Australian community. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Cannabinoids and Epilepsy".

Keywords: Anticonvulsant; Cannabinoid; Epilepsy; Medical marijuana; Medicinal cannabis; Paediatric; Survey.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Cannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana