Marijuana for Epilepsy: Weighing the Evidence

Epilepsy Notes

Andrew N. Wilner, MD


March 25, 2014

In This Article

Considering Marijuana

In 2011 (more than 2.5 years ago) in "Marijuana: A Viable Epilepsy Therapy?" I reviewed the possibility of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) for the treatment of epilepsy. That article concluded, "More research is needed before patients should consider marijuana for seizure relief, particularly because this represents criminal activity under US federal law and may be accompanied by adverse medical (and legal) events."

What Has Changed Since 2011?

Since 2011, the number of states allowing "medical marijuana" has grown from 15 to 20. Furthermore, 2 states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, increasing its availability for self-medication. "Cannabis tours"[1] are now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Denver, Colorado.

An inordinate amount of press has recently focused on the purported benefits of medical marijuana, including programs on Crossfire; Anderson Cooper 360°; and a documentary titled Weed, which was narrated by Sanjay Gupta, MD, CNN's chief medical correspondent. Before the airing of the documentary, Dr. Gupta published a written "apology" for his previous negative stance against marijuana. That article has been shared more than half a million times on Facebook.[2]


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