Cannabis use for common conditions: Research, fact and fiction

Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada for more than two decades, but its use has dramatically increased in the last few years, and, with the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, there has been an increased interest in therapeutic uses for cannabis. In this webinar recording, Drs. Jason Busse and James MacKillop discuss what the latest research says about the potential for cannabis to help with common medical conditions.


Learn the answers to the following questions:

  • 2:32 What does the Michael G. Degroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research do?
  • 9:20 What are the risks and benefits of medical cannabis for older adults?
  • 11:10 What is the evidence for common medical applications of cannabis?
  • 15: 36 What are the risks and harms of cannabis?
  • 17:16 What does the research say about medicinal cannabis for chronic pain?
  • 28:28 Can cannabis help those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other neurological conditions?
  • 37:09 What is known about the long-term effects of medical cannabis use?
  • 46:22 Can medical cannabis help with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder?

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  1. Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research. Accessed October 31, 2022. Devinsky O, Cross JH, Laux L, et al. Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine. 2017;376(21):2011-2020. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1611618
  2. Busse JW, Vankrunkelsven P, Zeng L, et al. Medical cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain: a clinical practice guideline. BMJ. Published online September 8, 2021:n2040. doi:10.1136/bmj.n2040
  3. Turna J, Patterson B, van Ameringen M. Is cannabis treatment for anxiety, mood, and related disorders ready for prime time? Depress Anxiety. 2017;34(11):1006-1017. doi:10.1002/da.22664
  4. Tibbo PG, McKee KA, Meyer JH, et al. Are There Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabinoid Products in Adult Mental Illness? The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2021;66(2):185-194. doi:10.1177/0706743720945525
  5. Kuhathasan N, Dufort A, MacKillop J, Gottschalk R, Minuzzi L, Frey BN. The use of cannabinoids for sleep: A critical review on clinical trials. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2019;27(4):383-401. doi:10.1037/pha0000285
  6. AminiLari M, Wang L, Neumark S, et al. Medical cannabis and cannabinoids for impaired sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Sleep. 2022;45(2). doi:10.1093/sleep/zsab234
  7. Wang L, Hong PJ, May C, et al. Medical cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic non-cancer and cancer related pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials. BMJ. Published online September 8, 2021:n1034. doi:10.1136/bmj.n1034
  8. Peball M, Krismer F, Knaus H, et al. Nonā€Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease are Reduced by Nabilone. Ann Neurol. 2020;88(4):712-722. doi:10.1002/ana.25864
  9. Cannabis. Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Accessed October 31, 2022.
  10. Research Summaries. Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research. Accessed October 31, 2022.
  11. Jetly R, Heber A, Fraser G, Boisvert D. The efficacy of nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, in the treatment of PTSD-associated nightmares: A preliminary randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over design study. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015;51:585-588. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.11.002

DISCLAIMER: These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of new and old blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with changing public health recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website.