HIV & Cannabis: What does the Doctor say?
Published study suggest cannabis helps HIV Patients
Cannabis may shows promise for those suffering with HIV and treatments
1) Donald Abrams et al., “Short-Term Effects of Cannabinoids on Patients With HIV-1 Infection: A Randomized, Placebo-
Controlled Clinical Trial,” Annals of Internal Medicine 139, no. 4 (2003): 258-266.
This preliminary, short-term clinical trial, conducted over 21 days using 62 HIV-infected patients, was designed
to examine the short-term safety of smoked marijuana and oral THC on HIV-infected patients, including potential
interactions with HIV protease inhibitors, viral load, and CD4 and CD8 counts. Secondary endpoints included weight,
caloric intake, and appetite. No safety concerns emerged with either treatment, and the authors concluded, “Our
short-duration clinical trial suggests acceptable safety in a vulnerable immune-compromised patient population.”
Both the marijuana and oral THC groups gained significantly more weight than the placebo group.
2) B.D. de Jong et al., “Marijuana Use and Its Association With Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy Among HIV-Infected
Persons With Moderate to Severe Nausea,” Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 38, no. 1 (2005): 43-6.
Use of illicit drugs is typically associated with poor adherence to medication regimens. This observational study
sought to determine whether this common assumption applies to HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Marijuana-using patients who suffered moderate to severe nausea were far more likely to be adherent to ART than
those suffering nausea who did not use marijuana (OR = 3.3). The authors concluded, “These data suggest that
medicinal use of marijuana may facilitate, rather than impede, ART adherence for patients with nausea, in contrast of
other illicit substances,” particularly in the case of “use of smoked marijuana specifically for amelioration of nausea.”
3) M. Haney, et al., “Dronabinol and Marijuana in HIV-Positive Marijuana Smokers. Caloric Intake, Mood, and Sleep,” Journal
of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 45, no. 5 (2007): 545-54.
In this controlled clinical trial, both marijuana and oral THC (dronabinol) use resulted in increased caloric intake
and body weight. Strikingly, a dronabinol dose “eight times current recommendations” was required to approximate
the effect of relatively low-potency (3.9% THC) marijuana, and only the marijuana improved ratings of sleep. While
both drugs produced some intoxication, researchers reported “little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of
(See the section on chronic pain below for studies of marijuana for HIV-associated peripheral neuropathy.)