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On March 6-7, in Denver, CO, The Parkinson’s Foundation will host its first conference focused on the use of medical marijuana as potential therapy for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
In many of the 31 states that have legalized use of marijuana for treatment of medication conditions, PD is one of the conditions that allow people to access medical marijuana. In observational and questionnaire/self-report studies, a majority of patients who have used medical marijuana report improvement in tremor, muscle stiffness, pain, and depression. However, worsening of attention, memory, and urination are also reported as are adverse events. Anecdotal evidence also suggests it may help manage insomnia, appetite, nausea, and anxiety.
There have been no prospective randomized placebo-controlled trials, however, and thus the actual safety and efficacy of medical marijuana for treatment of PD remains unknown. Yet, 95% of neurologists have been asked to prescribe medical marijuana, 80% of patients with PD have used it, but only 23% of physicians have received education about medical marijuana, created an unmet need in the medical community.
This conference will address that unmet need by bringing together a diverse group of experts to establish a consensus on medical marijuana use for PD. Discussions will address benefits and risks, delivery methods, safety considerations, approval as a therapeutic, and areas that require more research.
“The Parkinson’s Foundation is bringing together experts from across the globe to discuss the implications and recommendations of medical marijuana use for people with Parkinson’s,” said James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “Now that medical marijuana is legal in 31 states and in many other countries, people are equating access to efficacy. It is imperative that we address the clinical implications of medical marijuana use among people with PD."
Douglas W. Scharre, MD
Winnie Pao, MD
Joshua D. Grill, PhD