Use of Dronabinol for Cannabis Dependence: Two Case Reports and Review

Authors

  • Frances R. Levin MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
    2. New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York
      NYSPI, 1051 Riverside Dr, Unit 66, New York, NY, 10032. E-mail: frl2@columbia.edu
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  • Herbert D. Kleber MD

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
    2. New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York
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NYSPI, 1051 Riverside Dr, Unit 66, New York, NY, 10032. E-mail: frl2@columbia.edu

Abstract

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and throughout the world. Despite this, the number of laboratory studies that have assessed pharmacologic agents to target cannabis withdrawal symptoms or reduce the reinforcing effects of marijuana has been modest. Unlike alcohol, cocaine, opiates, or nicotine, there has been a minimal number of clinical pharmacologic treatment trials that have targeted marijuana use. Based on recent laboratory studies, dronabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) has been shown to reduce cannabis withdrawal symptoms and the subjective effects of marijuana. Given that agonist agents have been found to be effective for opiate and nicotine dependence, the clinical utility of dronabinol for cannabis dependence is a reasonable approach. Two case reports using dronabinol are presented. The potential benefit, as well as questions that arise from the use of this medication in cannabis-abusing populations, is presented. Also, future areas of research that might be explored are discussed.

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