A recent study conducted at Salk Institute for Biological Studies showed that medical marijuana might be a potentially effective treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the study, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) “stimulates the removal of toxic plaque in the brain, a common
feature of the disease” and treats inflammation, preventing neuron damage in the brain.
While Keith Fargo of the Alzheimer’s Association has expressed optimism about the study, referring to marijuana as a “legitimate avenue of research,” other researchers advise caution. Dr. Donovan Maust, who has studied marijuana’s effects on dementia, has said that there are still too many unknowns to start treating Alzheimer’s patients with medical marijuana.
These results correspond with earlier findings, such as a 2014 Dutch study showing that THC can treat symptoms of dementia, and a 2016 study that found “THC helped decrease symptoms of delusions, agitation or aggression, irritability, apathy and sleep in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”
While these fascinating discoveries hold a great deal of exciting potential, medical marijuana researchers continue to face enormous obstacles due to federal restrictions that come with marijuana’s Schedule I status.