Cannabis for Symptom Management in Older Adults

Med Clin North Am. 2020 May;104(3):471-489. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2020.01.004.


The purpose of this article is to present evidence on the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis as a therapy for symptom management in palliative care. This article provides an overview of the evidence on the risks and benefits of using medical cannabis for the indications of chronic pain, cancer-related pain, cancer cachexia, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness and safety of cannabinoids for most reviewed indications, with the exception of chronic pain. Future research is required before palliative care clinicians can make evidence-based decisions on the integration of medical cannabis as adjunct therapies.

Keywords: Cannabinoids; Cannabis; Medical marijuana; Older adults; Palliative care; Symptom management.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Cachexia / drug therapy
  • Cancer Pain / drug therapy
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Dementia / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana / adverse effects
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Management / trends
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Cannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana