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Meta-analysis concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of the medicinal use of cannabis

Research project DR/14 (Research action DR)


Persons :


Description :

1. Research context

For approximately twenty years several researchers have been studying the potential therapeutic use of cannabis regarding the relief of pain, appetite stimulation and the control of nausea and vomiting. In addition there are a lot of testimonies from chronically ill patients who smoke marihuana in order to relieve their symptoms. The current topic of discussion relates to the question whether medicinal cannabis can be considered as effective in clinical practice, or whether its therapeutic application is potentially harmful.


2. Research aims

This research aims at analyzing current scientific publications that report on the potential medicinal use of cannabis and cannabinoïd preparations. This implies an analysis of scientific publications according to the following criteria: type of study design, quality of data, independent replications by the same or other authors, magnitude of effects, comparison with other available treatments and reported adverse effects. We aim to formulate conclusions regarding the therapeutic value of cannabis and cannabinoïds in clinical practice.


3. Research description

• In the first stage of this inquiry the pharmacokinetic and pharmacological properties of cannabis will be explored. Within the context of the analysis it is important to obtain knowledge regarding the routes of administration as well as the possible adverse effects of cannabis.

• Next, the potential therapeutic applications of cannabis are explored. In addition the results of scientific reports on the effects of different cannabinoïds for different indications will be analysed. This entails a literature search will be conducted by means of the following key words: (medicinal / medical) cannabis, (medicinal / medical) marijuana, THC, dronabinol, levonantradol, nabilone, marinol, nantradol, dexanabinol, cannabidiol, cannabigerol, cannabinol, cannabichromene.

• In the second stage of this research project the effectiveness and efficiency of the medicinal use of cannabis will be investigated by means of meta-analysis. This statistical method aims at combining the results of independent studies in order to obtain a more general view of the therapeutic potential of cannabis. This implies an analysis and evaluation of the methodology of each study. On the basis of the meta-analytic data we will then formulate conclusions regarding the therapeutic value of cannabis and cannabinoïds in clinical practice.


Documentation :

Medicinale cannabis : meta-analyse van het onderzoek naar de doeltreffendheid en doelmatigheid van het medicinaal gebruik van cannabis : eindrapport  Rysheuvels, Sofie - Schotte, Christiaan - Sabbe, Bernard  Gent : Academia Press, 2005 (PB6116)
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Méta-analyse concernant les recherches de efficacement et l’utilisation de l’usage médicinal du cannabis : résumé    Bruxelles : Politique scientifique fédérale, 2004 (SP1409)
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Meta-analyse van het onderzoek naar de doeltreffendheid en de doelmatigheid van het medicinaal gebruik van cannabis : samenvatting    Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2004 (SP1410)
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Meta-analysis concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of the medicinal use of cannabis : summary    Brussels : Federale Science Policy, 2004 (SP1411)
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