Experience of migraine, its severity, and perceived efficacy of treatments among cannabis users

Complement Ther Med. 2021 Jan;56:102619. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102619. Epub 2020 Nov 20.


Objectives: As the legal and cultural landscape surrounding cannabis use in the United States continues to evolve, more Americans are turning to cannabis to self-medicate a number of ailments, including migraines. The purpose of the present study was to examine patterns of cannabis use and its associated relief among migraineurs.

Design: Participants were N = 589 adult cannabis users living in states with full legal access. Using a cross-sectional design, participants completed an online survey assessing their cannabis use profiles, migraine experience, and self-reported relief from cannabis and non-cannabis treatments.

Results: 161 participants (27.3 %) reported experiencing migraines. 76.4 % of migraineurs (N = 123) endorsed using cannabis to treat their migraines. 69.9 % (N = 86) of migraineurs using cannabis for migraine relief also endorsed using non-cannabis products (e.g., over-the-counter pain medication, triptans) to treat their migraines. Although their subjective health was similar (p = .17), migraineurs who endorsed using cannabis to treat their migraines reported more severe migraines compared to those who did not (p = .02). Migraineurs reported significantly more migraine relief from cannabis compared to non-cannabis products, even after controlling for migraine severity (p = .03). The majority of migraineurs using cannabis to treat their migraines were not medical cardholders (65.0 %), suggesting that these individuals were self-medicating in lieu of physician guidance.

Conclusions: The present study provides insight into the prevalence of cannabis use for migraine relief in a sample of cannabis users, and suggests that these migraineurs experience a high level of migraine relief from cannabis. Future studies are needed to determine the cannabis forms, potencies, and dosages that are most effective at treating migraine pain.

Keywords: Cannabis; Headache; Marijuana; Migraine; Pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use / epidemiology*
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders* / physiopathology
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Medical Marijuana