By / January 31, 2024

Medical Cannabis in the Treatment of ADHD: Groundbreaking Discoveries

A study conducted by a team of British scientists provides new evidence of the potential benefits of medical cannabis for individuals with ADHD.

In this rare research published in Psychopharmacology Reports, 12 patients with ADHD who were using medical cannabis were observed over a period. Improvements in anxiety, sleep quality, and overall health-related quality of life were noted. Additionally, the patients tolerated cannabis well: less than one-fifth reported negative side effects, most of which were moderate. 

The authors of the study claim that these results, although not conclusive, provide reasons for future research into the use of cannabis in treating ADHD.

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Understanding ADHD and Its Challenges

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by problems with attention span, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Although traditionally classified as a disorder, many experts now define it as a type of neurodiversity (a natural human diversity in the way different brains process information).

From this perspective, ADHD presents unique benefits such as creative thinking, high energy levels, and hyper-focus. However, the diagnosis also comes with a range of difficulties: not just issues with concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness, but also a higher risk of sleep problems, anxiety, and depression. These challenges can negatively affect quality of life, education, work, and social relationships.

Data from 2022 shows that over 10% of the population suffers from ADHD. Although some medications have been effective in alleviating ADHD symptoms (such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Wellbutrin), many of them cause negative side effects. Due to the risk of effects such as reduced appetite, insomnia, emotional regulation disorders, irritability, and adverse cardiovascular events, many individuals diagnosed with ADHD avoid these medications.

The Potential of Cannabis in Treating ADHD

Cannabis is known for activating the endocannabinoid system, which, according to preclinical studies, may be impaired in individuals with ADHD. Additional research suggests that cannabis may help increase concentration, motivation, learning abilities, memory, and reduce hyperactivity, thought clutter, and impulsiveness in individuals with ADHD.

However, other studies have observed that cannabis may worsen cognitive functions in ADHD patients. These conflicting findings indicate the need for further, in-depth research to understand the real impact of cannabis on ADHD.

ADHD and Cannabis: A 12-Month Study

To investigate the long-term effects of cannabis use in individuals with ADHD, scientists in the discussed study analyzed data from 68 ADHD patients from the British Medical Cannabis Registry. Eighty percent of the patients had previously used cannabis.

Analyzing patient-reported outcome measures (as well as daily doses of CBD and THC) at 1, 3, 6, and 12-month intervals, it was found that levels of anxiety, sleep quality, and overall health-related quality of life improved.

Only 11 out of 68 participants reported any negative side effects. Nine patients actually stopped taking other ADHD medications during treatment. Importantly, anxiety and sleep quality indicators improved at each subsequent measurement throughout the 12-month period. Significant improvements were also observed in the overall quality of life related to health in the first 6 months of the study. However, after 12 months, these improvements returned to baseline levels – with no significant difference between patients who had previously used cannabis and those who had not.

Scientists also noted some moderate negative side effects: the most common were insomnia, concentration disorders, lethargy, and dry mouth. Nevertheless, only 11 out of 68 participants reported any negative side effects.

Implications and the Need for Further Research

The new study adds detail to the research on cannabis in the treatment of ADHD. Scientists extracted data from real patients using cannabis, as opposed to data from population studies or experiments on cells or animals.

However, this study has certain limitations. First and foremost, it cannot prove that cannabis caused the observed improvements; it might only be a correlation. Moreover, scientists did not examine the different effects resulting from various cannabis use patterns: not just dosing, but also the chemical components of different strains and consumption methods. Therefore, each of these patterns requires a separate study. We cannot assume that all cannabis varieties will yield the same results.

The study mainly involved men (80.88%), which may lead to an overrepresentation of cannabis’s impact on men with ADHD. Future studies should consider how cannabis might affect male and female patients with ADHD differently.


Overall, this study shows strong evidence that cannabis can benefit individuals with ADHD, especially in terms of alleviating anxiety and sleep disorders associated with the condition. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings and determine the best ways to use cannabis for these purposes. If you are interested in using cannabis to treat ADHD, consult a cannabis clinic specializing in medical cannabis treatment.

(Featured image by Tara Winstead via Pexels)

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