Parkinson’s Foundation Announces Medical Cannabis Consensus Statement

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Statement outlines key takeaways and guidance for medical cannabis use for people with Parkinson’s disease

MIAMI & NEW YORK – May 26, 2020 – The Parkinson’s Foundation today announced the key findings and guidance for medical cannabis use for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The statement is based on the input from experts who attended the Parkinson’s Foundation first-ever medical cannabis convening in March 2019.

More than 40 experts gathered at the convening to develop key takeaways and guidance for medical cannabis use for people with PD. These experts included neurologists, scientists, a pharmacist, a PD nurse, non-profit organizations, people with Parkinson’s and Foundation staff. The statement concludes that the experts are urging caution when it comes to using medical cannabis to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, the Foundation is unable to endorse the use of medical cannabis until further and more reliable studies are published.

“The Parkinson’s Foundation continues to lead the field in generating more information about medical cannabis use for people with PD,” said James Beck, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “Ultimately, more research on medical cannabis is still needed to determine whether its use can have positive or adverse effects for Parkinson’s disease symptoms and the Foundation will continue to look for these answers while providing the PD community with the tools they need to live better today.”

The primary goal of this statement is to provide guidance to both people with Parkinson’s and their physicians for the safe use of medical cannabis for PD symptoms. A secondary goal is to uncover gaps in knowledge that should be addressed through rigorous research studies. Examples from the statement’s guidelines for medical cannabis use for PD symptoms include:

  • Discussing any use of cannabinoid products with your healthcare providers because they may interact with other medications and may cause side effects that could influence your PD care.
  • Treating cannabis products as you would any new medication. Always start at a low dose and go up slowly. CBD-only products may also be less likely to cause side effects and could be considered before trying products also containing THC.
  • Being aware of potential side effects, particularly dizziness, problems with balance, worsening motivation, dry mouth and impaired thinking and memory.

Read the full medical cannabis consensus statement and guidelines here. To learn more about Parkinson’s and medical cannabis visit Parkinson.org/Marijuana or call the Foundation’s free Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).

About the Parkinson’s Foundation 
The Parkinson’s Foundation makes life better for people with Parkinson’s disease by improving care and advancing research toward a cure. In everything we do, we build on the energy, experience and passion of our global Parkinson’s community. For more information, visit www.parkinson.org or call (800) 4PD-INFO (473-4636).

About Parkinson’s Disease 
Affecting nearly one million Americans and 10 million worldwide, Parkinson’s disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th-leading cause of death in the United States. It is associated with a progressive loss of motor control (e.g., shaking or tremor at rest and lack of facial expression), as well as non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety). There is no cure for Parkinson’s and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.

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