Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s

The Facts

The American Medical Association stated in a 2007 online report, “Medical Marijuana (A-01)”:

Only limited data exist on the effects of marijuana in patients with Tourette’s syndrome who respond inadequately to standard treatment, consisting of 4 case histories that report beneficial effects of smoked marijuana and 1 who reported substantial benefit from oral 9-THC.

The Institute of Medicine published in its March 1999 report titled, “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”:

It is important to note that stress and anxiety tend to worsen the symptoms of movement disorders. Thus, marijuana’s calming effect could be a primary reason why some patients claim that it brings them relief.

Movement Disorders stated in a Sep. 2004 article titled, “Survey on Cannabis Use in Parkinson’s 
Disease” by researchers from the Movement Disorders Centre at the Department of Neurology at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic:

An anonymous questionnaire sent to all patients attending the Prague Movement Disorder Centre revealed that 25% of 339 respondents had taken cannabis and 45.9% of these described some form of benefit. …The late onset of cannabis action is noteworthy. Because most patients reported that improvement occurred approximately two months after the first use of cannabis, it is very unlikely that it could be attributed to a placebo reaction.

Desired Strains Effects and Administration Methods

Patients suffering from movement disorders should consider the indica cannabis strains with high CBD low THC that provide following palliative effects:

  • Anxiety relief
  • Muscle inhibitor

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any 
new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medicinal cannabis. Talk with your healthcare provider about any

For your physician

Only physicians, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants are allowed to recommend medical marijuana.

Recommending physicians must:

  • Be licensed and practicing in New York
  • Be qualified to treat the serious condition
  • Have complete the New York Department of Health-approved training course
  • Have registered with the DOH
  • Must be caring for the patients for whom they are making recommendations for, meaning that they have done a full assessment of the patients’ medical histories, current medical conditions and believe that the patient will benefit from the use of medical marijuana.
  • Must consult the prescription drug monitoring program and review the patient’s control substances history before issuing a recommendation

should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide.

How to use

Start Low and Go Slow

The basic principal for dosing medical marijuana is to start with a low dose and to go slow in taking more until the effect of the first dose is fully realized, because the effects of cannabis are not always immediately felt. Starting low and going slow allows patients to accommodate for the different experiences they may have.

Cannabis has a wide margin of safety and there is limited risk of overdose. However, caution is warranted until a patient fully understands the effect that the cannabis may have. Dosage varies greatly among patients, even when treating the same condition.

There are many factors that impact the effect, including:

  • Amount used (dosage)
  • Strain used and method of consumption
  • Environment/setting
  • Experience and history of cannabis use
  • Biochemistry
  • Mindset or mood
  • Nutrition or diet


All allowable forms of medical marijuana, including methods of consumption and strain, variety, and strength, are determined by the Commissioner and must be approved by the Commissioner before they can be sold. Smoking as a method of consumption of the only form not left to the Commissioner and specifically excluded from ‘certified medical use’ in the statute.

Inhalation Methods:

  • Battery-powered handheld vaporizer
  • Disposable handheld vaporizer with replacement cartridge options
  • Electric vaporizing device
  • Metered-dose inhalers (MDI)

Oral Forms:

  • Capsules/tablets
  • Oils
  • Tinctures
  • Oromucosal sprays

Effects of Medical Marijuana

Short-Term Cognitive Effects

Patients should be aware that cannabis use causes short-term impairments in the following brain functions:

  • Memory
  • Sense of time
  • Sensory perception
  • Attention span
  • Problem solving
  • Verbal fluency
  • Reaction time
  • Psychomotor control

Cannabis users may “pull themselves together” to concentrate on simple tasks for brief periods of time. That said, performance impairments may be observed for at least one to two hours following cannabis use, and residual effects have been reported up to 24 hours depending on potency of the cannabis, the method of administration, and the tolerance of the user.

Long-Term Cognitive Effects

Consult the advice of your physician if you are a long-term user of medical cannabis and intend to stop using it, or if you are concerned about dependence on or addiction to cannabis. Your physician can help you manage any withdrawal effects that you may experience. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medical cannabis.

Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding your cannabis use. The information and materials provided to you by PharmaCannis should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.


Each registered organization may initially produce up to five brands of medical marijuana product, with prior approval of the Department, which must include at least one brand that has a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content and high cannabidiol (CBD) content, and at least one brand with approximately equal amounts of THC and CBD. Each brand in its final form must have a consistent cannabinoid profile. Independent laboratory testing of the final medical marijuana product is required to test for contaminants and ensure product consistency.

Until independent laboratories receive certification from the New York State Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP), the Department’s Wadworth Center Laboratory will perform the testing and analysis of final medical marijuana products. Each registered organization may have up to four dispensing facilities, owned and operated by the registered organization, where approved medical marijuana products will be dispensesd to certified patients or their designated caregivers, who have registered with the Department. Dispensing facilities must report dispensing data to the New York State Prescription Monitoring Program Registry and consult the registry prior to dispensing approved medical marijuana products to certified patients or their designated caregivers.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can find a list of commonly asked questions for the New York Medical Marijuana Program here.