The Current State of Pharmacological Treatments for Cannabis Use Disorder and Withdrawal

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 Jan;43(1):173-194. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.212. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


Cannabis use disorder (CUD) commonly occurs and carries a notable economic and functional burden at both individual and societal levels. While there are no clearly efficacious medication treatments for CUD, 20 years of committed and high-quality research in the human laboratory and clinical settings have resulted in medications with demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of cannabis withdrawal, the ability to reduce cannabis use, and results that point to promising future work. The current state of pharmacology research for CUD highlights the need to consider particular characteristics of patients, such as gender, impulsivity, and severity of cannabis use, when selecting a medication in the off-label treatment of CUD or cannabis withdrawal. As a field, the body of work also exposes some areas in need of improvement in study design, selection of outcome measures, interpretation of results, and the overall process of evaluating candidate medications. Coming to a consensus as a field and addressing these gaps in future research will likely lend itself to further advances in improving the lives of patients with CUD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / drug therapy*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*