The changing landscape of the use of medical marijuana after traumatic brain injury: a narrative review

Brain Inj. 2021 Oct 10;1-11. doi: 10.1080/02699052.2021.1978548. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To summarize the potential therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana for patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Methods: A systematic search was conducted using PubMed and Cochran's library for information regard the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana as a therapeutic agent. We investigated, in depth, articles specifically evaluating medical marijuana's use in TBI, as well as articles that summarized the effects of marijuana in general. Articles from the year 2000-2020 were included.

Results: A total of 37 articles met our inclusion criteria. An additional 3 articles were obtained from reference lists.

Conclusion: Studies have shown that medical marijuana can potentially aid the recovery from TBI by modulating the endocannabinoid system, reducing inflammation and secondary injury. Adverse cognitive and physiological effects have been observed in the acute setting as well as chronically, though more research is necessitated. There is also the concern of significant drug-drug interactions that have not been thoroughly studied. Thus, while there is evidence that medical marijuana can be beneficial in the treatment of TBI, more research is necessitated to fully explore the long-term efficacy and adverse effects.

Keywords: brain injury rehabilitation; cannabinoid; medical marijuana; pharmacology; traumatic brain injury.