Sex-Dependent Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Translational Perspective

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 Jan;43(1):34-51. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.140. Epub 2017 Jul 17.


Recent policy changes have led to significant increases in the use of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. Although men are more likely to endorse past month cannabis use and are more frequently diagnosed with Cannabis Use Disorder relative to women, a growing proportion of medical cannabis users are reported to be women. The increased popularity of cannabis for medical purposes and the narrowing gap in prevalence of use between men and women raises questions regarding sex-dependent effects related to therapeutic efficacy and negative health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. The objective of this review is to provide a translational perspective on the sex-dependent effects of cannabis and cannabinoids by synthesizing findings from preclinical and clinical studies focused on sex comparisons of their therapeutic potential and abuse liability, two specific areas that are of significant public health relevance. Hormonal and pharmacological mechanisms that may underlie sex differences in the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / pharmacokinetics
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / pharmacology*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacokinetics
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / physiopathology
  • Medical Marijuana / adverse effects
  • Medical Marijuana / pharmacokinetics
  • Medical Marijuana / pharmacology
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana