Indications for medicinal cannabis use

Health > Information for patients

Recommended use

Dutch medicinal cannabis is only available on prescription from pharmacies. The Dutch Health authorities made a list of indications based on the outcome of an extensive review of the scientific literature.

Currently, there is sufficient reason to assume that medicinal cannabis can help in cases of:

  • pain and muscle spasms or cramps associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord damage;
  • chronic neuropathic pain (mainly pain associated with the nervous system, e.g. caused by a damaged nerve, phantom pain, facial neuralgia or chronic pain which remains after the recovery from shingles);
  • nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss and debilitation due to cancer or AIDS;
  • nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy used in the treatment of cancer, hepatitis C or HIV infection and AIDS;
  • Gilles de la Tourette syndrome;
  • therapy-resistant glaucoma.

The reason for this limited list of indications is that the efficacy of medicinal cannabis use for other medical conditions has not yet been properly studied in convincing clinical trials. The list is subject to change based on new studies.

Other medical conditions

Medical doctors are allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis in other conditions than those listed above, if they think it can have a beneficial effect and regular medicines are not sufficiently effective or have severe side-effects. Patients and doctors have also reported positive effects on a range of other conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, epilepsy, itching, migraine, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, ADD and brain trauma. These positive effects still need to be more solidly confirmed by scientific research. For more information, go to the website of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine.

At present, medicinal cannabis does not cure the disorders mentioned above, but it can relieve the symptoms associated with them. It may also enable other medication to be given at a lower dosage, especially morphine, and reduce their side effects.

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