Review: Marijuana Promising for Insomnia

Science supports personal, anecdotal testimony about marijuana’s medical value

LENOIR, N.C.The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is reporting that forms of marijuana can help treat insomnia, according to a New Zealand study. “The administration of oral cannabinoid products holds promise in the treatment of insomnia disorder, according to the findings of a systematic review of the relevant literature published in the journal CNS Drugs,” according to the news release.

The science of marijuana is as important as ever, yet very little study has been done on the plant in the United States, as it was made illegal at the federal level 50 years ago with the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. However, on Dec. 4, 2020, the U.S. House passed legislation that would remove federal penalties on marijuana and erase cannabis-related criminal records. The Senate is not expected to take up the legislation, yet it’s a vote that will almost certainly expedite the legalization of marijuana in those states that have not already done so.

To date, 15 states have legalized it for adult recreational and medicinal use; another 21 have legalized it for medical use only. It is illegal for any use in Southern Appalachia, including in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. It is legal for medical use in all of Central Appalachia, including in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The states that have legalized it have done so largely upon the testimony of individuals since scientific evidence is scant because of the Controlled Substances Act.

However, according to NORML, the new New Zealand study holds promise for those tossing and turning every night. “A team of New Zealand researchers identified five studies involving 219 total subjects. Participants in the studies were administered doses of oral cannabinoids, typically THC. In the majority of the studies assessed, subjects reported improvements in their sleep quality index scores for periods of eight weeks or longer.”

The authors concluded: “This review is, to our knowledge, the first systematic review of the literature to examine the impact of cannabinoids on insomnia disorder. … This review highlights the potential promise of cannabis-based products in the treatment of insomnia disorder. However, the evidence remains in its infancy. … Further research in the form of high-quality RCTs [randomized controlled trials] is required before drawing any firm conclusions about the efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of insomnia disorder.”

Courtesy Article (NORML News Release); Marijuana plant photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash. A full text of the study, “Cannabinoids in the treatment of insomnia disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” appears in CNS Drugs.