Clinical uses of cannabis and cannabinoids in the United States

J Neurol Sci. 2020 Apr 15;411:116717. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2020.116717. Epub 2020 Jan 30.


The role of cannabis in medicine is rapidly evolving. Medical cannabis is now legal in a majority of states, and THC and CBD, the prominent cannabinoids found in cannabis, have both been utilized in the development of FDA-approved drugs. Due to the complicated legal status of cannabis and cannabinoids, as well as regulations that vary from state to state, the appropriate use of these substances for both patients as well as clinicians is often unclear. Advancements in the understanding of the pharmacology of cannabis have led to numerous proposed uses of these drugs, including as antidepressant or analgesic agents. However, clinical trial data for these substances suggests that many purported indications of cannabis and cannabinoids are not supported by good clinical data. Furthermore, cannabis and several cannabinoid-based medications have potentially concerning side effect profiles that may limit their use in certain patient populations. As the legal status and clinical database of these medications continue to evolve, physicians will need to continue to balance the real potential of these compounds with their limitations and adverse effects.

Keywords: CBD; Cannabidiol; Cannabinoids; Cannabis; Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics
  • Cannabidiol*
  • Cannabinoids* / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis*
  • Dronabinol
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana* / therapeutic use
  • United States


  • Analgesics
  • Cannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Cannabidiol
  • Dronabinol