Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy

About one third of epilepsy patients are not able to control their seizures effectively with medication. Some forms of epilepsy, such as Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, are medication resistant, particularly in children and adolescents. Medical marijuana has helped many patients to reduce the frequency and severity of their seizures.

Get a medical marijuana certification

Florida patients are eligible to receive a medical marijuana recommendation for epilepsy

What is Epilepsy?

Seizures are the result of bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Experts do not know why or how this occurs, or what causes epilepsy. About half of epilepsy cases can be linked  to cancer, stroke, a head injury, brain tumor, or some other injury to the brain.

Epilepsy is most often diagnosed in children, and in adults over 60 who are experiencing the effects of a stroke or the onset of dementia, but it can develop at any age. Epilepsy is unpredictable. It can get worse, or improve over with time fewer and fewer seizures. Some children outgrow epilepsy.

Many people experience multiple types of seizures. Seizures affect each person differently, but typically follow the same pattern every time they occur. Some people notice a strange smell or have a strange taste in their mouth during a seizure.

Symptoms of Epilepsy

The only symptom of epilepsy is recurring, unprovoked seizures. Some people experience only occasional seizures, while others have seizures several times a day.

Seizure categories

  • Focal (partial) seizures occur in a specific area of the brain, and are accompanied by confusion, temporary paralysis, repetitive movement, sensory changes, memory loss, or loss of awareness
  • Generalized seizures involve the whole brain
  • Grand mal (tonic-clonic) seizures are characterized by muscle spasms, jerking, twitching, and loss of consciousness
  • Petit mal (absence) seizures occur over brief periods during which a person loses awareness of their surroundings; children have petit mal seizures more often than adults

Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy and Seizures

Medical cannabis works in a different way from anti-seizure drugs, by infiltrating the blood brain barrier and interacting with the central nervous system to regulate the release of neurotransmitters. Medical marijuana is a combination of compounds, including cannabidiol (CBD), delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), that interact with the brain in several ways to reduce and control seizures. Medical marijuana has beneficial side effects, such as increased alertness. Parents of children who are using medical marijuana report that their child’s mood improves and there are fewer behavior problems.

Scientific studies are being conducted to better understand the mechanism by which medical marijuana reduces seizures. Medical marijuana offers hope for epilepsy patients who have not been able to control their seizures with currently available medications. Some types of epileptic seizures are more responsive to medical marijuana than others, and the dosage might have to be adjusted several times, especially in children. Your doctor will evaluate your situation carefully and work with you to achieve the best results.

Get medical marijuana for Epilepsy

Now Florida patients can use medical marijuana to help with epilepsy

Research Studies

If you are a physician or medical professional, please visit our Physician Resources page.


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