Medical marijuana may not aid dementia

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Behavioral symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, or wandering, may not be helped by medical marijuana pills, research suggests. However, a study in Neurology found the drug is safe and can be tolerated by dementia residents. 

The study followed 50 nursing home residents with mild to severe dementia who underwent screening and basic assessments, said Geke A.H. van den Elsen, M.D., of Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. 

Split into two groups, the participants received either 1.5 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, the main chemical involved in marijuana's psychoactive effects, or a placebo three times a day for three weeks. The scores of the behavioral symptoms, called neuropsychiatric symptoms, were recorded after two and three weeks.

“There was no significant difference between the intervention concerning severity of NPS, nor the other outcome measures, as global functioning of daily life and quality of life,” Elsen told McKnight's. “As we now know, that 4.5 mg daily is well tolerated. Higher dosing studies can be relatively safely conducted, provided that the dose is gradually increased.”