Academy of Neurology: Strong Evidence, Marijuana Helps MS

Happy woman in wheelchair
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system, causing symptoms such as blurred vision, slurred speech, tremors, paralysis, and spasticity. The American Academy of Neurology and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society both acknowledge the potential of marijuana in treating MS, with evidence suggesting it can lessen symptoms of spasticity and pain caused by the condition. Research has shown that patients with stable MS reported a twofold improvement in muscle stiffness, body pain, spasms, and sleep quality after using oral cannabis extract. Despite the need for long-term studies, the side effects of medical marijuana have been minimal compared to other prescribed medicines, with some patients reporting increased happiness and laughter.
Table of Contents

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. In MS, the immune system incorrectly attacks nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in blurred vision, slurred speech, tremors, paralysis, and spasticity (a condition causing muscles to continuously contract).

The American Academy of Neurology now publicly acknowledges marijuana’s potential to treat MS, writing:

Strong evidence shows that oral cannabis extract lessens patients’ reported symptoms of spasticity. It also lessens the pain caused by spasticity.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society supports the Academy’s position, adding:

[T]he Society supports advancing research to better understand the benefits and potential risks of marijuana and its derivatives as a treatment for MS.

While both institutions point to the need for long-term studies, exciting research is already underway. Below, CannaMD reviews the three most promising areas of MS marijuana research.

Muscle stiffness

In 2012, researchers randomly assigned patients with stable MS either an oral cannabis extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, patients who received the cannabis extract reported a twofold improvement in muscle stiffness compared to those who received a placebo. Improvements were also noted in body pain, spasms, and sleep quality.

Well-controlled clinic trials involving Nabiximols (an oral cannabis spray) lend additional support.


A five-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that MS patients who used whole-plant cannabis-based medication (including cannabinoids THC and CBD) experienced reduced pain intensity.

Jabe Couch, a MS patient (who was not involved in the study), details his personal experience with medical marijuana:

For years, my face was so numb, I couldn’t feel anything. One day the numbness started to subside. I was kissing my wife, and I could feel her soft face pressed against mine. Overjoyed, I started crying. It was one of the best days of my life.


The same 2005 double-blind study also found that cannabis-based medication decreased sleep disturbances, leading researchers to conclude:

Cannabis-based medicine is effective in reducing pain and sleep disturbance in patients with multiple sclerosis related central neuropathic pain and is mostly well tolerated.

Side effects are also minimal. Documenting her journey with medical marijuana, MS patient Meg Lewellyn writes:

Unlike many of the prescribed medicines I have tried in the past, I haven’t run across any side effects. I’ve experienced dizziness, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, dry eyes, dry mouth, drowsiness, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, and even decreased sex drive as I searched for relief. But with the cannabis, the only side effects I’ve noticed are smiling and laughing more than ever (oh, and the return of my sex drive, too!).

Updated: March 22, 2024

Jessica Walters

Jessica Walters serves as CannaMD's Chief Medical Researcher. Prior to her time at CannaMD, Jessica earned her degree from Harvard where she focused on neuropsychology. Her personal research interests include psychosocial interventions for obesity, depression, and generalized anxiety disorders.


Questions about medical marijuana? Ready to get your card and purchase legal cannabis products? CannaMD‘s state-certified network of medical marijuana doctors are here to help! Contact CannaMD‘s experienced team at (855) 420-9170 today. You can also find out if you qualify for medical marijuana treatment with our quick online application!

Find Out If You Qualify

You may be eligible for medical marijuana!

To stay up-to-date with the latest studies and legal regulations surrounding medical marijuana treatment, be sure to follow CannaMD on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter, below!

Join 100k+ Subscribers!

Get updates on more posts like this!

Related PostS

Feedback from our readers is very important and helps us provide quality articles. Please don’t be shy, leave a comment.

If you have a topic you would like us to cover in our blog or you are interested in writing guest posts please contact us for more information.

Get a medical marijuana certification