Use of Medical Cannabis to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

J Neurotrauma. 2021 Jul 15;38(14):1904-1917. doi: 10.1089/neu.2020.7148. Epub 2021 Jan 25.


There is not a single pharmacological agent with demonstrated therapeutic efficacy for traumatic brain injury (TBI). With recent legalization efforts and the growing popularity of medical cannabis, patients with TBI will inevitably consider medical cannabis as a treatment option. Pre-clinical TBI research suggests that cannabinoids have neuroprotective and psychotherapeutic properties. In contrast, recreational cannabis use has consistently shown to have detrimental effects. Our review identified a paucity of high-quality studies examining the beneficial and adverse effects of medical cannabis on TBI, with only a single phase III randomized control trial. However, observational studies demonstrate that TBI patients are using medical and recreational cannabis to treat their symptoms, highlighting inconsistencies between public policy, perception of potential efficacy, and the dearth of empirical evidence. We conclude that randomized controlled trials and prospective studies with appropriate control groups are necessary to fully understand the efficacy and potential adverse effects of medical cannabis for TBI.

Keywords: THC; cannabidiol; cannabinoids; medical cannabis; medical marijuana; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / drug therapy*
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*


  • Cannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana