How do I know how to dose myself with cannabis for cerebral palsy pain?

Dear Dr. Dave,

I have a 23-year-old son with cerebral palsy. His leg muscles are very stiff and he has difficulty walking. To help with pain and stiffness, we are trying edibles with 0.5mg THC and 5mg CBD. My question is, how much should he take and how often?

-Patrick D

Dear Patrick,

Due to human variability, plant complexity and need for additional research, one cannot say one size fits all to treat any symptom or condition.

The best research we have is from GW Pharmaceuticals’ Sativex (Nabixamol), which was successfully used to treat muscle spasms associated with MS (and approved in Germany since 2011).

Sativex is a 1:1 THC:CBD whole plant alcohol tincture with 2.5 mg each of THC and CBD. You likely would not need to use that high a dose, but you could.

Like all therapeutic agents there is trial and error aspect to dosing.

Oral cannabis therapeutic effects last 3-7 hours, so I would start with this dose about four times a day. If it is not successful but has no untoward side effects you might increase the dose by 2.5 mg increments each of THC and CBD and increase until you either get acceptable symptom relief or stop because the side effects outweigh any possible benefit.

All the best,

Dr. Dave

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*Editors note: “Oral cannabis” is an administration method in which cannabis does not need to be smoked or inhaled. Administration methods include edibles or tinctures.

About the Author
David Bearman, M.D.

David Bearman, M.D.

Dr. Bearman is one of the most clinically knowledgeable physicians in the U.S. in the field of medicinal marijuana. He has spent 40 years working in substance and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. Dr. Bearman was a pioneer in the free and community clinic movement. His career includes public health, administrative medicine, provision of primary care, pain management and cannabinology.

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